Pivoting Performance Post-Pandemic with Heinan Landa

In this episode we discuss:

  • The uncertain future of continuing to work from home, post-pandemic.
  • The time and energy savings of working from home.
  • How connecting with people is more difficult with only Zoom call interactions.
  • Opportunities for hiring talent from all over the world when geography is no longer a dictating factor.
  • Making a conscious effort to maintain and continue to develop your company culture.
  • The possibility of pivoting to a mixed environment of working virtually from home and working at the office.
  • The acceleration in the adoption of technologies spurred by the start of the pandemic.
  • Keeping the client experience front and center when choosing your technology tools.
  • Preparing for staying ahead of the curve in a post-pandemic world.

Allison Williams: [00:00:11] Hi everybody, it’s Allison Williams here, your Law Firm Mentor. Law Firm Mentor is a business coaching service for solo and small law firm attorneys. We help you grow your revenues, crush chaos in business and make more money.

Allison Williams: [00:00:26] Heinan Landa, is the founder and CEO of Optimal Networks, founded in nineteen ninety one Optical Networks Inc, provides comprehensive I.T. support services, including full or partial I.T. outsourcing, backup and disaster recovery, strategic consulting and preeminent enterprise class cloud computing solutions to law firms, associations and assemblies. For twenty five years, Optimal has helped thousands of clients navigate the ever increasing changes in technology and to make sure that technology drives the organization’s success. So you may remember that we had Heinan Landa on our show actually in May of twenty twenty. And at that time we talked about his then new book, The Modern Law Firm, and how technology and its changes were something that the legal industry needed to adapt to. But right now, today’s episode is actually going to be about change in the legal industry since covid and the different ways that technology is going to be not just a part of our today, but a part of our tomorrow to help us with things like collaboration and maintaining culture. So we waxed philosophical about that for quite a while, and Heinan gave us a lot of ideas about how we can use technology for innovation, productivity, collaboration, creativity, and to make sure that our law firms remain on the cutting edge. So without further ado, I’ve got my guest today, Heinan Landa, the founder and CEO of Optical Networks.

Allison Williams: [00:01:53] All right, Heinan Landa, welcome to The Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast.

Heinan Landa: [00:01:58] Thank you. Thank you. Great to be here.

Allison Williams: [00:02:01] Yes. Great to have you back. And so I enjoyed our conversation the first time so much because you were just such a wealth of information for law firms. And I really like to bring people resources that I think can offer something outside of the box, but also something that works with the framework that they currently have, which means we as lawyers are in risk mitigation. We are very much about protecting what is known and oftentimes we fear what is unknown. But we know that twenty twenty was the year of the unknown from the murder hornets to the toilet paper crisis to the pandemic, to the to the racial unrest, to the election, like there was no ceasing to all of the different changes that we had to endure as business owners. And I frankly think that that is now the way of the world. So with that, I want to ask you, do you see many law firms making the conscious decision to stay virtual? A lot of us had to go virtual in twenty twenty in this new post pandemic era that we’re in.

Heinan Landa: [00:03:02] Well, I. First of all, thanks for having me. Let me just say I had a lot of fun last time, and I’m planning to have a lot of fun this time, and so I’m excited to be here. Look, I don’t see the I don’t yet see a clear post pandemic world. So let’s start with there. I think I think we’ve all jumped home and we’ve we’re all working from home. I think we have learned that we like working from home. And and although we’re starting to miss our offices quite severely, especially those of us who just coincidentally had it completely redone just before the pandemic.

Allison Williams: [00:03:46] Small coincidence, right?

Heinan Landa: [00:03:48] Small coincidence. I’m just starting to get the hang of it. And and as you look forward, you see sort of a sort of an unclear future. You definitely see the vaccines coming into play and you definitely see people looking forward to coming back to the office and hopefully we’ll squash this pandemic. This is going to take time. I mean, they’re all telling us. Months before it’s like really normal again, right, assuming that the virus doesn’t somehow come back at us and and so, just, and I’m doing this deliberately to put some uncertainty in there. I’m not trying to make predictions. I just there is some uncertainty. And and I think that. If I’m not mistaken, we will be seeing a good bit of work from home going forward. Maybe not as much as now, maybe not as much as we are locking ourselves in our basements or in our bedrooms and working as best we can. But there’s something nice about waking up and having a really long ten second commute of going down the stairs. And you can be more productive and you can do video calls and you can connect with your teammates. And I think we’re going to start separating out our work, too, from the work that needs to be done together, to the work that needs to be done alone at home. And I think you’re going to find more conscious effort of that going forward.

Allison Williams: [00:05:19] Yeah, well, you know, it’s interesting you say that. I literally just had lunch with my team members today because in my law firm, we actually have staggered people coming into the office. But today, for a whole host of reasons, a lot of people, relatively speaking, were here A whole five of us, five of us, one third of the workforce is here today. And so we decided to go out to lunch. And one of the things that came up was the fact that we are starting to adapt to court by Zoom and not having to travel everywhere and being able to start later because you don’t have a commute, and work longer because you don’t have a long drive home and having the flexibility to fit life and work together in a much more seamless fashion when you have a certain amount of work that you have to get done. But also the time of the day can can flex to accommodate it based on the fact that we’re working from home.

Heinan Landa: [00:06:13] Yeah. And you can be more productive. We’re saving tons of time.

Allison Williams: [00:06:19] That water cooler is a real time suck.

Heinan Landa: [00:06:21] It sure is. But I actually meant primarily the commute. You’re looking at, on average, employees and people have recovered 11 workdays a year by avoiding commute. That’s a huge number of days and a huge number of hours that that you get back.

Allison Williams: [00:06:40] Yeah. And, you know, it’s not just the actual days. I was talking to a friend of mine about this, too. The idea of saving time is not just saving the microseconds that you could be billing or that you could be advising a client or structurally doing something. It also is saving you energy. Because the time that you’re not in the car and when you get to the office, then having to really start your workday, you don’t have that same ramp up time. Right, because you can literally just step out of one room into another and be at your computer ready to work versus when you come into an office, you kind of have some lead time of getting the morning coffee and turning the computer on and letting it boot up and stopping to say hi to somebody. So there’s like little things that add up time and you save all that when you’re working on your own.

Heinan Landa: [00:07:27] Yeah, I think so. Now the flip side of that is that you really miss people. And the connections with people are very important. I think it is much harder to connect with new people. So if we’re doing business development in any way, shape or form, the idea of connecting with people over a video meeting, you can only take it so far. Right? You really it’s almost like, it’s almost like you can get business done much faster over Zoom because you don’t have a lot of the chit chat. You just get on the line and hello. Hello. And you start doing the work. But to connect with someone on a more personal level almost takes, as far as I can… At least for me, it’s taking two to three times more Zoom calls to develop that same connection that I could have over a lunch with someone, yeah.

Allison Williams: [00:08:16] I tend to agree with that.

Heinan Landa: [00:08:17] Yeah. So I think there’s going to end up being a mix over time and I don’t know exactly how it’s going to play out. I have had clients, law firm partners that say the managing partner is saying to me, I want everyone back in the office the second it is feasible for them to do so. I don’t want to hear anything about it. Everyone get back. And then I’ve also had people say, well, I sort of really like this work from home. We’re being much more productive. We can get a lot done. And, you know, real estate’s pretty expensive and so is the talent in these big cities.

Heinan Landa: [00:09:00] So maybe we can do something with changing, changing geographies. So this is one of the other monster benefits of work from home is that you suddenly if you get it right, right. If you can actually do it and do it well and be productive at it, you’ve actually exploded your ability to hire from anywhere in the world, talk about the United States or whatever. You can open up offices. You can bring in other attorneys, you can collaborate with other people. You can have support staff anywhere you can. You can develop any sort of firm you want to develop. It is really blowing the doors off of any restrictions that you may have had on geography.

Allison Williams: [00:09:45] Yeah, well, you know, that’s a beautiful thing to say it that way, because this restriction, the idea of having a restriction oftentimes is self imposed and we oftentimes don’t look for creative solutions. I mean, we have had virtual staffing for I can’t tell you how long now. And lawyers as an industry, we are just now getting into using virtual staff at a high level, because if everybody had to be virtual anyway and I’m in a high rent area, why would I choose to hire my virtual team out of New York City? I would hire my virtual team out of, you know, East Bumfuck, Alabama. I mean, pardon my french, but, you know, like you don’t have, you don’t have those same the same borders that you perceive that you had before when you’re forced out of the state of having borders.

Heinan Landa: [00:10:33] Correct. And the thing that hopefully we’ve sort of learned is that when we are all virtual, one of the things we have to pay a lot of attention to is keeping our culture intact.

Allison Williams: [00:10:45] Yes.

Heinan Landa: [00:10:46] Right. Because that’s what’s really missing inside the workforce. And and the only way to do that is to be intentional about it. Like, you can’t just sit down and expect it to happen like it does in the office, your culture. You actually have to pay attention to it. You have to set up these virtual coffees with people and these virtual town halls and virtual happy hour and whatever you’re going to do, virtual holiday parties, a virtual scavenger hunt, virtual magic shows. OK, that’s my current favorite. And I’m slowly coming up on virtual comedy hours. Stand up, sit down comedy.

Allison Williams: [00:11:28] Yeah, well, culture is really important and I think it’s something that people lose sight of very easily, because when the pandemic first happened and people first went out in March, you know, there was kind of the scurrying of how do I make sure we bill enough hours and how do I make sure the clients can still retain us and how do I make sure we can get our documents back and forth? And once we kind of got out of that minutia, if you were not already set up virtually and set up in a way that cloud sharing and DocuSign and all of those things were implemented, it didn’t take long to learn those things. But the culture piece is something that a lot of people still struggle with. And I remember when we first went out, I, I created this this chore for my team. And I remember the the collective eye roll that I could feel from the other side of the screen that was being suppressed because I could see them. Uhh, we’re going to have a slack channel. Right. Every morning we are going to rotate one of us writing a morning motivation. And the motivation could be around anything. It could be around music, it could be around poetry, could be around art. It could just be around the deer in your backyard, whatever. Right.

Heinan Landa: [00:12:32] I love it!

Allison Williams: [00:12:33] And every single day people would have have a turn. And what I found was between things like lymerics and jokes and scavenger hunts, things like that, it kept us connected to each other. It kept us learning about each other in ways that, you don’t, you don’t really think about how you just innately learn about people when you them by their office and see a piece of sports memorabilia on their desk or a picture of their kid. You know, we lose sight of all of that human touch point that connects us as people. So when you don’t have that, you have to create that and you have to really be intentional about creating it. And now, even though we were off on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, every day, even when those days were off, people still said, hey, is it my do I get to take my turn or do I have to wait until, they still connected with each other. They still said hi to each other, they still said Merry Christmas to each other. And they said Happy New Year to each other, even though we weren’t working because we were connected as people.

Heinan Landa: [00:13:33] I have to tell you, that’s one of the nicest things I’ve heard being done to connect. That’s really wonderful. We talked about it in my company a lot about, we were worried about, I mean, a whole different topic, but we were worried about digital fatigue. And we were talking about, you know, we’re Zoomed out and we can’t get on the cameras anymore. And one of the one of the experts recommends that you make your background very plain so that you don’t get distracted. And we were violently, well, I don’t wanna say violently, vehemently opposed to having bland backgrounds because it’s, you know, it is what it is, right now, the only place we get to see some some insight into the other people. You know, I was I was born in Israel and for a long time, I, I like for the past two months, I’ve had my birth town of Haifa, Israel, as my background. And I can tell you, it’s a wonderful conversation starter. Right. So you are looking for those ways to connect over video. And it’s important.

Allison Williams: [00:14:36] Yeah, so we’ve been talking a lot about culture and about change and some of the things that you and I are both doing in our respective companies. Have you, do you have any things that your law firm clients are doing that that that might need to change, you know, the way that they have things set up?

Heinan Landa: [00:14:57] Yeah, I’ll tell you that when I’m looking down the road, if I go back like two steps in our conversation to the idea that we’re going to have some work from home and some office work, I think that it’s very important right now to take a look at your environment and say, hey. I did it, I made it, I came home, I adopted a bunch of technology and and we’re working virtually. Or I can go work from the office, which is great, because we know how to do that, we’ve been doing that for years. Can you do both? And that’s actually I think the next big topic of conversation is can we we’ve done the pivot to home. Can we do the pivot not just back to the office, but to a mixed environment where some days you’re in the office, some days you’re at home? Do you, do you have the computing environment that it’s identical? You want to be able to work from home the way you work from the office. You want to get into the office, you want to turn on your computer, you want to have the big monitors, whatever you need. Is that the same as you have at your house? Right. You don’t want to like, feel or have your folks feel that when they go to one location, they’re very unproductive. Or they have to wade through VPNs and I don’t know what to get their files versus the other locations, so. So I think from a technology point of view, that’s sort of the next question.

Heinan Landa: [00:16:30] I think that’s where people are going to be pivoting to try to figure out. And oh, and security. Allow me to just throw in security in both areas. Very, very important. And then also and this has nothing to do with technology, but it helps. Do you have the technology and the mindset to manage a mixed mode company? Right. Because if you’re all on Zoom, if you have, if everyone’s at home and you get in a Zoom meeting and you’ve got, I don’t know, 10 people on a Zoom. Yes, It’s a big meeting, but 10 people on a Zoom meeting. And you see everybody’s face. You see where they’re connected, you see them talking. It’s very good. What happens if five of those people are in a conference room? And they’re on one Zoom window. Five people in one Zoom window. And then five talking heads like what happens exactly. Right. So it becomes a little bit trickier. Yeah. Who are you going to give priority to? If you’re running the meeting and you’re in the conference room, are you going to give priority to the four people at the table with you or the other five talking heads that are on the big TV screen? How are you going to do this? It bears some thought. And I think it’s going to have some change in the way people manage. And I think that and I know some of my clients are starting to think of what technologies can I bring in? To make that half digital half physical experience more seamless for everyone?

Allison Williams: [00:17:54] Yeah, well, you know, I always love talking to you because you bring up big ideas that I don’t think people are even like conscious of at the time that they come into your thoughts and your awareness, because while I certainly think there are people that are kind of doing a mix now, especially as you have areas across the country that go in and out of hotbeds of the pandemic, and some people say, you know, I’m not going to force my people in, but I’m also not going to restrict them from coming in. So you kind of have that that mixed mode office anyway.

Heinan Landa: [00:18:26] Right.

Allison Williams: [00:18:26] But I think there, there’s probably a lot less thought being given to how do we integrate a culture and create equanimity among our team members when we have two different locations of people. And and then you have the other, the other part of that, which is really about productivity. And some people, you know, I know myself, I am very much a systems structure kind of person. So when I was physically working at home, it was I get up at the same hour, I put my clothes on at the same hour. I go to my workspace in the same hour and I’m working with my clothes on at my computer, at my desk. And that time period, because if I started deviating, I became far less productive. And I could also see people being… They got used to working from home, so they learn how to make that productive, but then switching back and forth. Right. It’s kind of like the kid who does great during the school week. But the weekend comes and you let them stay up until midnight and they don’t have any type of structured diet and they can kind of do whatever. Monday comes and they’re a wreck. Because that adaptation doesn’t instantaneously turn back on again. So…

Heinan Landa: [00:19:36] I mean, it’s it’s a brilliant point. And I think that we have to think about how to accommodate different people’s work habits like that. I could never do what you do. I mean, I do get up in the morning and I do put my clothes on and…

Allison Williams: [00:19:51] That’s good to hear.

Heinan Landa: [00:19:53] You know, but when my schedule varies and if I can, I’m not that regimented. I tend to gear up for whatever appointment I have in the way I need to gear up for that appointment. And it’s sort of different. And I could see it getting… So I guess for me, switching back and forth from home into the office isn’t going to be that hard just because I’m, I’m used to gearing up to whatever way I’m going to be functioning in that day. So if it’s an office day, I’m going to dress differently than if it’s a home day. But I could see that that could be very disruptive for some people who need the routine. And yeah, you’re like that. Oh, we can I mean, all of us coming right off of this, you know, week and a half vacation that we all tried to do at home. I feel like everyone I know did not go anywhere, and we all just stayed at home and pretended not to work.

Allison Williams: [00:20:52] It’s a perfect description of it. Right?

Heinan Landa: [00:20:54] Right. Yeah.

Allison Williams: [00:20:55] Yeah. Well, you know, the other thing, though, Heinan that I that I think is is brought up by this conversation is, you know, we often think about it from the perspective of, what does the employer need to shift and pivot to do, to allow. Because the more we allow and meet people where they are, the more opportunities we have to bring in more people. Right. Because they you know, more people can fit within our workplace, when our workplace has flexibility. But as the employee, there is the flip side of it, which is, you know, my boss is going to be holding me accountable to KPIs and I need to or want to stay home for homeschooling or for concerns about my physical health while at the same time wanting to meet the needs of my employer, who may or may not prefer that I come into the office. So what are you seeing law firms doing? And in terms of their employees, like how are their employees handling all these changes and what are the firms doing to help them to acclimate?

Heinan Landa: [00:21:52] I think many of my clients are actually paying quite a lot of attention to the culture and are starting to think through what sort of policies and work from home policies they want to put together in the future. So there’s a lot of questions there. Like, if you’re going to give employees the ability to work from home or work from the office, do you have to pay for their Internet? Do you have to pay for their equipment? Do you, do you have to pay for their home office or do you have to contribute to their home office set up? One side of it is on the on the employer side, which is like, oh, my God, I don’t need to have that much rent. So the next time my lease comes due, I can cut my space in half and just turn it into like a meeting space. Great. Well, that’s fine. But then you’re expecting your employees to give up part of their homes to work. So is that fair? So these are… I think people are still grappling with these questions. And from the employee side, of course, it’s like, why do I have to give up my house? I want to get paid for that. Right. But listen, this is all happening very quickly in the scheme of things. Nine months is nothing. And I think that everyone is being incredibly accommodating to each other right now. As we move into the world, into the next phase of this, people are going to start thinking. There’s also if you just go out of the law firm context for a second, there’s a migration happening.

Heinan Landa: [00:23:32] People during the pandemic have left big cities. Yeah. And they’ve gone to places that are much cheaper to live in and taking much bigger homes. And, you know, and and then you have people putting out strange policies saying, well, OK, you can do that, but and I’ll give you 20 percent for move allowance, but then I’m going to cut your salary 10 percent because you’re no longer in this high salary district. So there’s a lot of I mean, I’m not an expert. I’m not trying to be an expert. But there are a lot of moving pieces here when you start looking at the members of your team and how they’re going to function going forward and what’s equitable between you and them to make it work.

Allison Williams: [00:24:19] Yeah, and, you know, one of the things that we talk about here in Law Firm Mentor is the fact that you may not necessarily have someone who is phenomenal for your season, be with you for your lifetime. And so as things change, you know, a lot of times people don’t want to change with it because whatever their set point is, when they come into your business, they’re financial set point, if they are offering less value to a company and you then want to recoup that value and say, well, now that you’re doing less or now that we’re shifting responsibilities, you know, the role that we have available for you is is worth less or economically produces less. Nobody wants to hear. I’m going to give you less salary for that. But if you keep your salary even flat and it doesn’t go up, even though the role may have gone down, they also don’t want to hear that they’re not getting a raise. So you have to really be proactive about managing expectations and having honest communication. And if people aren’t very proactive in communicating economic value and what the company’s compensation systems are based upon, it’s going to be really challenging for people to understand that you’re going to lose people. So you have to be ahead of the curve in terms of communicating about these things as well.

Heinan Landa: [00:25:33] Yeah, agreed. And there is now that that you’re seeing more and more adoption of cloud software and a lot of these software packages, I don’t see a lot of them, but there are more metrics inside these software packages. And I’m starting to see law firm practice management packages that come with dashboards, you know, and maybe it’s just billable hours and maybe it’s profitability per matter per case, things like that. And it’s interesting to see if there’s going to be a shift. I hate to make a prediction on this, but it would be interesting to see if there is going to end up being a shift towards really showing people every day when they walk through the door where they stand and how they’re contributing.

Heinan Landa: [00:26:25] Yeah, well, we’re already starting to see a lot of shifts in the legal industry in terms of flat fee billing, subscription pricing. You know, the way that we are conceptualizing of the way that we have to work is changing so that people can do things in a way that streamlines the process of work that does produce less time and it takes less time to get a high quality product. But it also then can be sold at a lower price point so that it can attract more people. So a lot of a lot of different ancillary results from from the pandemic that we hadn’t thought about before.

Heinan Landa: [00:27:01] Yeah, well, it all comes back to the change aspect of things. Microsoft CEO recently said that there were about two years of technological adoption that happened in the space of two months at the start of the pandemic. And I think that’s pretty accurate. Like that is what? People jumped on technology to facilitate this move at a rapid, rapid change, and and I think that taught us a couple of things. And one of those is that we can change in other areas to. Right, we can be flexible, we, wow, we do not have to do things the way they were and there may be some there may be some real benefits to the change. The other thing I think it taught us is technology does change and you have to stay on top of it. Right. That’s what I wish it taught us.

Allison Williams: [00:27:56] Well, I mean, and of course, that’s your area of expertise, like beyond beyond all things. I mean, you’re not just a successful business person. You also are kind of the tech guru. So, you know, just shifting now to talk a little bit about your book, The Modern Law Firm, because when you wrote this book, of course, I imagine you did not have a global pandemic in the in the forefront of your mind.

Heinan Landa: [00:28:19] It was really the last thing I was thinking of.

Allison Williams: [00:28:21] Yeah. I would say it’s probably been the last thing that was on my mind, too, before it got here. But you talk a lot about the need for adaptation and malleability and flexibility and meeting the needs of your clients and your and your employees in that book. So let’s talk a little bit about how the modern law firm actually is applicable to the life and times that we’re in right now. Did you did you discuss any of these issues about pivoting and change and adaptability? And if so, how? In the modern Law Firm?

Heinan Landa: [00:28:51] So the answer is yes, because not not directly and obviously not in the light of a pandemic. But the entire premise of the book was that technology is changing fast and faster and faster and faster. And while I could not predict like that, all of a sudden it would be like thrust upon us in a very fast way. That was, in fact, what was happening, like in a slightly slower way.

Heinan Landa: [00:29:24] But still, the pace of change of technology is just increasing and increasing and increasing. So my book, to some degree, was a call to action for lawyers and law firms and firm administrators to say, hey, look, pay attention to this. It’s a tidal wave. It’s coming it’s coming faster and faster and faster. And you got to lean into it because if you run away from it, it’s just going to overwhelm you. So how do we do that and it gave two, sort of big picture frameworks that I could talk about for a second, one of those is don’t look at this from the point of view of technology. Look at this from the point of view of your client and your client experience. And how could you use technology to make that better? So if I pause there for a second. What’s the pandemic do? It took us all and it threw us at home and it made the entire client experience digital, right.

Heinan Landa: [00:30:28] Your clients are going to find you by searching on Google, even if they even if they talk to their, you know, and get referrals and to their friends and coworkers and colleagues and get referrals, they’re still going to look you up. They’re still going to look and see what reviews you get. Right. And it’s all digital because then they’re going to go to your website. And that’s digital, and so what kind of story are you telling on in the digital buyer’s journey, which before the pandemic comprised two thirds of the buying journey of a potential client. Right. It was digital already. And one third happened after they picked up the phone to talk to you. So just if you think about that one hundred percent journey from not being a client to being a client, only a third of it were you watching, or you involved in. I’m sure once the pandemic hit and we’re all in front of our computers all day long, that’s probably much greater. And so so look at it from the client experience, first of all, to attract clients and then to retain clients. How are you going to delight them? How are you going to improve your service to them? How are you going to show your value to them? How are you going to bring the value of all the players to your of your firm to produce the product for them? How are you going to communicate with them? And this was all sort of pre pandemic, but now if you have teams and I’m your attorney and I’m in your team’s channels.

Heinan Landa: [00:32:05] Boy, it’s like I’m part of your company, right? Wow, that’s a great place to be as an attorney, as an outside counsel. But, you know, it’s almost like you’re part of them. And and I love that, like, my attorney actually is part of my slack instance. And I love it because I can just communicate. I can direct message him. I can send things back and forth. We can work on projects together in channels. It’s wonderful. It’s like, why do I have to go back and forth by email. So it’s a much tighter level of connection that you can have with your clients digitally. So, yes, we talked about all that sort of thing. Can you… It’s all about the client experience and the client journey and how can technology be fit there? Right. So that was one aspect of the book that I thought was very powerful and very applicable to what we’re doing now. And the other aspect is, OK, wow. Well, that seems really overwhelming, right? Oh, my God. There’s so many things with technology. There’s the security and then there’s the support and then there’s the access control and the right software packages and the governance and the compliance and this and the that. And it’s incredibly overwhelming. So one of the things I’m actually quite proud of in the book is we put together a model called the Technology Operational Maturity Model, which is a 14 point model.

Heinan Landa: [00:33:32] It’s very simple to go through. And you can sort of see in rating yourself where you, where you are on these different traits. You can see how the best performing firms operate. You can, it like shows you. It’s almost like it gives you the examples as you’re rating yourself. And with that model, you can just take a little bit at a time, like take a little nugget at a time and improve it, take another little nugget at a time and improve it. And then you can kind of take another rating and you can just watch yourself climb up and and learn to deal with technology in a more and more mature fashion. And and if you do that, everything else will fall in line.

Allison Williams: [00:34:14] So the digitized customer experience. (Yes.) And all that you shared about that, it’s such a it’s such an interesting area of what we do in business, because if you think about it, A lot of people are struggling to put themselves into a virtual environment because they think it is a copy and paste version of a brick and mortar environment. And the way that our brains adjust to blue light, the way that our bodies relate to being sedentary and having a certain level of sensory deprivation by virtue of flat screen versus a more kinesthetic experience. All of that plays into how well your clients are going to experience working with you. And just doing what you did in person on screen is not going to cut it.

Heinan Landa: [00:35:01] Not quite. Yeah, (yeah,) you have to really pay attention to it. Down, down to the kind of background you want to have on your Zoom call.

Allison Williams: [00:35:13] Absolutely. And, you know, one of the things that we work very hard on here at Law Firm Mentor is we do business retreats. And so when we took our retreats virtual, we were very intentional about making sure that we did things to break up the screens stare, because. Right. What you’ll find is that you get eyestrain. And I’m particularly aware of this as somebody who’s getting older eyes and have always had to take care of my eyes.

Heinan Landa: [00:35:36] You could have fooled me.

Allison Williams: [00:35:38] So, yeah, you’re just being nice, Heinan. My vision has always been impaired. I came out with a very bad astigmatism and it got worse and worse and worse and worse. And we’ve had to do a lot of things with the eyes. So I’m always very acutely aware of how technology affects me. And so it made me a little more sensitive to how it affects others. But that, I think, is one of those things that if you don’t give some thought to, you can have a happy client, but the client is not going to have as great a level of experience. And the connectivity with clients is what generates more clients naturally, organically, without you having to go spend money on marketing and leads. So that’s like the cheapest thing that you can do is just concern yourself with what you are delivering as a service rather than trying to go out and just buy yourself more traction.

Heinan Landa: [00:36:27] This is true. No, no, no truer words said.

Allison Williams: [00:36:31] Yeah, so let’s talk about takeaways from the book. You know, I got a lot out of the book. I had the pleasure of receiving a copy from you the first time we had you on the podcast. And both my office administrator and I and a colleague of mine who I talked to about the book, enjoyed certain pieces of it. So I know what my biggest takeaway was. But I want to hear from you. What would you say is your biggest takeaway from the book and what’s the most valuable nugget that someone could really latch onto if they are just coming to an awareness that they need to pivot in the pandemic and as a way of being in business.

Heinan Landa: [00:37:07] So, I mean, it’s a great question. And I don’t know that my perspective is as important as what you would take away from the book. But I’ll tell you what, I enjoy it. I’m very cerebral about it. I love the fourteen point model that we came up with for technology maturity levels. And it’s actually fueled a lot of fires internally and given us a wonderful structure to do consulting with with our clients. So we do technology consulting and we do it on a strategic level. And it’s given us like a real framework that we can walk into the clients and say, look, this is how we are able to benchmark you against best practices and we’re going to take one of these traits every month and we’re going to focus on it. I mean, sure, we’ll we’ll deal with your biggest weaknesses first and we’ll take you up the curve. And there’s all sorts of other things that we can talk about. But it gave us a lot of structure internally at our consulting. So for me, that was like a wonderful takeaway. It was. It was it was worth it. And then clients really enjoy the book so they can follow along. You know, there’s like there’s a method to the madness and there’s a lot of explanation of it. So that was my biggest takeaway. I’m sure clients will be like, God, you are a nerd.

Allison Williams: [00:38:24] Well, ironically, even though I am not a client, I did find a lot of value in the model and I found value in it because it gave me an opportunity to think about not just where I am, but where I need to be in order to have a firm that is not just technologically compliant from an ethics standpoint, because most bar associations now do require that as lawyers, that we are conversant with technology so that we can serve the needs of the public where they are based, on common use of technology. But it also it gave me the opportunity to think about different iterations of my firm, which is part of the reason why when the pandemic happened, we really didn’t miss a beat. I mean, there was no downtime. There was OK, quarantine is coming, guys. Let’s go ahead and start to prepare ourselves. Everybody already had a laptop. We were already doing cloud computing. You know, the Cybersecurity Network was well in place. All of the things that were necessary in order to make sure that we could be a safe container. It was just shifting into a different physical environment. And I think a lot of the firms that struggled with moving virtual, it wasn’t necessarily assembling all of the technology. It was trying to learn it, figure it out, and then adapt to a different technological space and a different physical environment space at the same time.

Heinan Landa: [00:39:42] Yeah, absolutely. And that would cause for a lot of struggle. And there and there were firms, luckily not my clients, but there were firms that were down, you know, really just stuttered for a week or two weeks before they got their footing.

Allison Williams: [00:39:58] Yeah, absolutely.

Heinan Landa: [00:39:59] And I don’t want that, you know, I don’t want that. It’s not that’s not what we are what we’re here for. So just this idea of of sort of leaning in to technology change, leaning into the advantages and benefits of different technologies, keeping some sort of an eye on the pulse of what’s happening in the technological world, whether you do it yourself, whether you do it with a technology partner, just someone to feed you these ideas and say, hey, can this help our operations in the future? Right? Can I look around the corner six months a year and and envision this post pandemic world and think about what technology I need for that?

Heinan Landa: [00:40:40] Like, wouldn’t it be good to do that now? Get in place now and then when the post pandemic world sort of hits kind of slowly, rockily, and we get in there, you’re already, you’re already set, you’ve already thought it through. You’re already you’re coming back to work and be fully back to work and you’re there.

Allison Williams: [00:40:58] Yeah. So as always Heinan, you have been a wonderful resource of information all about technology, but in particular about adaptation and pivoting in the post pandemic era. In light of all that we have to do with technology in order to keep ourselves ethically compliant as well as successful in business. So I want to thank you, as always, for being our guest here on the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. And please let our audience know if they want to find out more about how you help law firms with your technology and help to create the modern law firm, which is the subject of your book, how they can get a hold of you.

Heinan Landa: [00:41:33] Well, thank you. First of all, it’s wonderful to be here. I love these conversations with you and and and all your listeners. So if you want to reach me, you are more than welcome to email me directly. H Landa at optimal networks dot com. You can go to the website to learn more about us, optimal networks dot com. That’s with an S optimal network with an S right. Ok. And if you want to learn more about the book, it’s Modern Law Firm book dot com. And in there, actually, even if you don’t want to buy the book, there’s all sorts of free content. And the model, the law firm model is out there. The Operational Maturity Model is there. You can do a self-assessment right on the website and see where you stand and please use it. Please take advantage of it. I’m happy for you guys to do so.

Allison Williams: [00:42:26] Yeah. All right. You guys heard it here. You can go to optimal networks, dot com or modern Law Firm book dot com, where you can get a lot of great resources to learn more about how to advance your law firm, evaluate your law firm on its technological aspects and see how you can keep yourself ahead of the edge and on the verge of success that you are already materializing if you are listening to this podcast. So once again, everyone, thank you to my special guest, Heinan Landa. I am Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Everyone have a wonderful day.

Allison Williams: [00:43:18] Thank you for tuning in to the Crushing Chaos with Law Firm Mentor podcast. To learn more about today’s guest and take advantage of the resources mentioned, check out our show notes. And if you own a solo or small law firm and are looking for guidance, advice or simply support on your journey to create a law firm that runs without you, join us in the Law Firm Mentor Movement free Facebook group. There you can access our free trainings on improving collections in law firms, meeting billable hours, enjoying the movement of thousands of law firm owners across the country who want to crush chaos in their law firms and make more money. I’m Allison Williams, your Law Firm Mentor. Have a great day!

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Optimal Networks






Heinan Landa is the Founder and CEO of Optimal Networks, Inc., a globally ranked IT services firm. After earning his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University, Heinan went on to receive his MBA from The Wharton School of Business. Featured in Legal Management, Legal Times, Chief Executive, Inc. Magazine, Forbes, CIO, and with regular appearances on WJLA-TV, WTTG-TV, and WUSA9, Heinan is a trusted leader in the legal, technology, and business spaces.

Here is a description of Optimal to supplement Heinan’s bio that you already have: Founded in 1991, Optimal Networks, Inc. provides comprehensive IT support services, including full or partial IT outsourcing, backup and disaster recovery, strategic consulting, and preeminent, enterprise-class cloud computing solutions to law firms, associations, and SMBs. For 25 years, Optimal has helped thousands of clients navigate the ever-increasing changes in technology to make sure their technology drives their organization’s success.