- Rebecca Ritchey
- Sara Kelley
We sat down with family law attorneys Rebecca Ritchey and Sara Kelley from the Sibus Law Group to discuss their experiences in our Lawyerist Lab community.
Lawyer: Hello Rebecca and Sara! Can you give a brief description of your company, your area of activity, your location and any other details that you would like to share with me?
Rebecca: We are Sibus Law Group. We’re a pretty small company – we have two lawyers. We practice family law, which ranges from litigation to flat-rate consulting fees. This means that customers know the cost of the services in advance and only get the services they want.
Looking for a future-oriented support system
Lawyer: And what were the biggest challenges in your company shortly before you came to Lab?
Rebecca: When I found a lawyer, I was originally looking for receptionist resources. But then I realized that there was this really good community of people trying to change legal practice – which we were already doing.
We don’t have access to a community here in San Diego that is open to this type of change. I took part in one of the first LabCons and there I found this great community of Labsters. So you could say that I wasn’t necessarily looking for community, but the community is the reason I stayed.
Lawyer: How about you, Sara? What were your challenges before you were in the lab?
Sara: Similar to Rebecca. I joined them a little later than they did, but the challenges were the same – how to build a modern law firm. One of our biggest challenges was finding people who believed there was something other than traditional legal practice – for example, moving away from the billable hour.
Lawyer: Rebecca, you mentioned LabCon. What made you want to join LabCon at LabCon?
Rebecca: At the first LabCon we stayed up late into the evening and worked on projects. The idea of working together to solve a problem in such a short amount of time was amazing. Sara and I work together on our own, but when you bring together a group of people who have great ideas, you can’t beat it. It wasn’t just spitting ideas. We actually did something, and then I said, “OK, these people are taking action!”
Lawyer: What was the advantage of the two of you at Lab compared to just one person in the company?
Sara: Working together we were able to take on different roles. Rebecca and I shared and conquered the plan. Rebecca focused on marketing and business while I was able to focus on other areas that came with my role as Chief Innovation Officer and Legal Engineer in the firm.
When we work together in Lab, we’re on the same page.
1 × 1 support for your company
Lawyer: How did the legal team help you with implementation and strategy?
Rebecca: When I came to Lab, I initially relied heavily on the course modules. I worked through them systematically. And then when 1: 1 coaching was introduced, it was so nice to know that I could go to someone if I was stuck. For example, if I need help with a social media or management problem, I have someone with the specific expertise to speak to.
Sara: Being able to speak to a coach the moment I’m stuck is invaluable. There aren’t many places where you can get this type of feedback. Usually you can’t call another lawyer and say, “Hey, I want to automate my customer revenue system. How do I do that?”
And the staff on the Lawyerist team have worked through these issues and know what they’re talking about when they provide guidance.
Rebecca: Yes! Before Lab, Sara spent a lot of time researching resources. And not that we’re still not doing the research – we’re curious, after all – but now we can get advice and support from people who have already done this job instead of just looking pointlessly on the internet.
Lawyer: Well, you’ve been in the lab for a while now. What milestones did you reach when you were here?
Rebecca: I keep thinking about how we automated our customer admission system. It’s just so exciting. We changed and automated our entire funnel from admission to onboarding. It is great. Masterminds, conversations with trainers and other labsters – all of them were of great help.
Sara: Another one – conversations with other Labsters at LabCon and other events really shaped our social media strategy. Choosing the right person to hire also made a difference and it runs like a well-oiled machine.
There was a shift where the strategy shifted from being overhead to being a more concrete project. Hearing what other people are doing and getting that feedback during the lab events gave us peace of mind – other people have done this and they are successful.
Lawyer: You mentioned the lab community is helpful. What other ways did the connection with Labstern help?
Rebecca: Seeing other people struggling with similar problems was very helpful, especially in masterminds where we get AND give advice. When you teach, you learn as much as the person you teach. Sometimes giving advice or looking at other people’s perspectives gives me an objective perspective on our own problems.
Sara: It was interesting to see how many lawyers specifically struggle with hiring and finding the right fit for their law firm. You would think these are two sides of the same coin, but I’ve seen other companies hired because of people who just showed up and applied. Watching other lawyers intentionally hiring has also helped our hiring process.
Many individual lawyers struggle with this because law firms have a different hiring structure. For example, if you want to open a restaurant, you might first work as a server or host, then switch to the manager and then you can open your own restaurant. In law firms, people often skip the climb and go straight to ownership. So you don’t have a lot of experience in finding the right fits.
It was helpful to work with Labsters who understand this idea and want to take their attitudes better into account.
The future of the Sibus Law Group
Lawyer: If you could give some advice to someone starting their own business, what would you say?
Rebecca: I would say – don’t let the noise of the other practices drown you out. Keep coming back to your why – why you started your law firm and why you wanted to do things differently than in traditional legal practice.
Sara: Start with case management platforms. Don’t try to invent your own method to keep track of cases, conflicts, and money in your company – there is software out there that will do it for you. It doesn’t matter which one, grab one, throw it all in.
Lawyer: Good advice. And what does the future look like for your company?
Rebecca: Bringing legal services to the masses. Scale up, enable people to understand the cost of legal services and its implications, and give them the autonomy to choose the services they need based on the advice we give.
And to bring this to people who traditionally shy away from going to a lawyer because they think it’s complicated, expensive and will only mess up their divorce. And I mean there are 50 million movies and TV shows about this misunderstanding, so the future of our company is changing that image.
Sara: The future is to find the right technology to solve problems that don’t require legal knowledge. You don’t need any legal knowledge to scan a document or answer a phone. We want to reduce attorney time spent on non-attorney duties and focus on the legal space. The other things will be reconciled if we do this and access to judicial costs will decrease.
Our ultimate goal is to get people to break away from our fixed thought: “I love my lawyer.” That was a sentence that came up in our initial marketing development. We’re not there yet, but for the ultimate type of cake in the sky we want people to go away and say. And I also want people to love being a lawyer.
Which areas of your company would you like to take to the next level?
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Lawyerist is home to the world’s largest online community of individual and small lawyers. As part of our Lawyerist Lab program, we partner with attorneys to build more successful practices by implementing ideas from our bestselling The Small Firm Roadmap and our weekly Lawyerist Podcast.