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Mountebank

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Mountebank last won the day on December 12 2019

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  1. Yes, but how can any undergrads get flack for this when the PM himself likes a good race-based costume. And karaoke to boot, what a guy!
  2. I believe it's $40/mo. for the machine I have, which is the wifi device with no base.
  3. It's so interesting you say that, because I actually remember the whole Wolfpack thing as being criticized for being sexist, not racist. Is this a learning moment for me?!
  4. Racism or not, one thing any future Queen's student is going to have to come to grips with is the student population's hungry obsession with costume/themed parties. Prepare yourself for the douche chills because it truly never ends.
  5. @OWH Yes, I use LawPay through Clio, but not for manual transactions in office (they charge more per transaction and there's less security than using a chip card, plus you don't get the same paper trail). I'm with TD Merchant Services and they advised that they couldn't have one unit for two accounts. I'm unsure whether this is true for all machines, or just the one I wanted. To answer @BringBackCrunchBerries's earlier question, the fees for credit cards vary depending on the card used (I think it's usually between 1.5% to 2% of the transaction). For debit, it's very cheap (I believe it's a flat 6 cents per transaction). And then there's a monthly fee on top, which varies depending on the machine used. Having the machine really gets bills paid faster and I find that it's very much worth it.
  6. The problem with the debit/credit machine is more a practical one than anything: namely, that most (if not all) providers can only have the machine connect to a single, dedicated bank account. And because we can't accept client money into general or firm money into trust, this means that in order to be able to pay into either at any given time, we need two separate machines (which is double the monthly cost). In my case, I rarely take retainer amounts, but I often have clients pay their accounts in office, so I have my machine pay into my general account. My rule basically is that I can accept any form of payment for accounts rendered, but only either cash or cheque for retainer amounts (and even then I avoid taking cash because it's more administratively burdensome). I get what you're saying about 365, but I like the subs because it's a no-commitment thing. I also view 365 as the foundation of the rest of my cloud-based practice (shared calendar, email, client files digitized on the cloud, access from home, etc.). Also, implementing 365 would be easier than some other things on your list because the interface is more or less what you and your staff will already be familiar with (you're already using Outlook, which means you actually are in the cloud!). One issue you may find if you upgrade to the cloud in a bigger way is that your hardware will need to be upgraded too. If you were finding Clio slow before, that may be either a hardware or internet connection issue.
  7. @BringBackCrunchBerries I remember now that you already tried Clio and it didn't work for you. Out of curiosity, did you ever end up adopting 365 for calendar and possibly doc management?
  8. Excited bragging to follow: I think you've hit the nail on the head. Starting from scratch has been the best part about this, especially as far as tech is concerned. We're completely cloud-based (except for Estate-a-Base, but this will be moving to Unity in a couple years) and we consume very little paper (drafting and editing is done on the cloud and although a lot of things have to be done in hard copy (Wills, etc.), I execute as many docs as I can through Adobe Pro, which at this stage is admittedly not as much as I ultimately wish to). No more of this bullshit about printing off emails, that's for sure. We haven't even gone through our first carton of printer paper yet. My whole directory is just a desktop icon on each computer, including my computer from home. And I use my OneDrive to keep all my hardcopy receipts for income tax (OneDrive access on my phone, so I just open the application and snap a pic and I'm done. If you take the picture through OneDrive it even auto-crops the receipt. Of course, I still retain the originals in a terrible mess in a filing cabinet). OK bragging over. Honestly though, in retrospect, a lot of what I have going on now would have been very doable at my old firm, but for a lack of buy-in. Are you taking over a solo shop? Because if you're the only one with skin in the game, I think you can do a lot to make an existing practice your own. And although it's harder than starting fresh, you would at least have the benefit of being able to transition slowly in a thoughtful, controlled way while still relying on existing business and processes. At the very beginning, I was working past midnight just on basic admin (tech issues, firm processes, precedents, assembling furniture, etc.). In some ways it would have been easier not to have to do it all at once, hoping all the while that everything would fit together in the end. Anyway, thanks to everyone for indulging me. Initially, I wanted to thank the OP and everyone else who contributes to this forum, but I guess I'm just a little excited and I wanted to share/brag a bit too. I've not posted about the new firm in the last few months in case I crashed and burned, but even today (while finding time to post) I billed out a few files and got three new ones. I'm starting to be less run off my feet with admin and more with actual legal work and it's a good and familiar feeling.
  9. I had some clients, but I do a lot of retail. The work I do usually results in repeat business, but it can sometimes take years before a client needs me again so I can't rely on that to get started. My principal source of new work comes through referrals (realtors, financial/insurance people, and lawyers) from sources that I have been cultivating since I started at the old firm. I didn't know when I left my old firm whether those referral sources would still send me work, but they don't seem to have abated. What I have been most surprised by is how many new clients I'm now getting from other lawyers, whereas that was a rare thing before. I think this is largely due to the fact that my old firm was full-service, so there would be a concern that any referrals there would be a lost client for the firm referring them. Whereas now, if a lawyer sends me a new client just for one matter, I am going to refer the client back to the original firm for any other work that may come up. To that end, I know I need to get better at recording and keeping track of how clients are coming in. I have also seen some moderate success with a couple referral services and online marketing (I get a lot of calls through Google ads, although the reach is fairly broad so I ultimately turn quite a lot away). I live in a small city not in the GTA. It is not a suburban bedroom community type municipality, so the clients are a mix of urban and country dwellers.
  10. Yes, I started off with one staff member, mostly to do bank runs, order supplies, man the phone, open files, and generally be around when I'm not so that the office doesn't close if I'm away. She does some clerk work, especially with real estate, but a lot of what she does is more administrative than legal. It's still just me and her. The business will be cash-positive in the month of February and, based on the pace of work coming in, continue to grow after that so I am content for now to do extra work and recoup my initial investment rather than hire more staff. However, if the pace continues then I will need to hire someone to do more clerk work sometime in 2020. I have my own office space. It is a new, modern space in a very good location and accounts for about a third of my overhead. It is slightly larger than I need, but there's room for growth and I'm not in the GTA so it is affordable. The day after I left my old job I opened my bank accounts and did all the law society/lawpro/CRA/business name, etc. stuff. I secured the lease after giving notice but prior to leaving. But there was a lot of work that had to be done with the physical space, so it was over a month before I was really able to see clients so I would consider my launch to be in December. But it was a gradual thing. I signed up for referral services, got my telephone and fax, and my covering letter/branding/website as soon as I could so I could begin drumming up business before the space was ready. I was able to correspond with potential clients and referral sources and look professional and established before the space was prepared. During this time, I was licensed and insured and had my security in place so I could do legal work, although I didn't really. I already had an OK understanding of running a small business because I have a lot of clients who have their own businesses and I had been educating myself in law practice management for quite a while in anticipation of leaving. I think I was as well prepared as I could have been, but of course it's very daunting at first (especially the LSO record and bookkeeping requirements). But once you're set up it's manageable. The legal bookkeeping isn't really a ton of work if you have a good recordkeeping system in place. I keep my own books, using Quickbooks Online for regular (i.e. non-law society) bookkeeping and I take care of my own HST and payroll through Quickbooks. It wouldn't cost much to get a bookkeeper to do this, but I can do it and I guess it's my personality that I like to have my fingers in the pie. I do, however, have an accountant for income tax. If you're going to keep your own books for income tax, though, you need to have some tax law knowledge and understand how to use the program to record things the way they should be recorded (simple things like money coming into trust being recorded as a liability rather than income, what purchases are capital costs and which are business expenses, what is HST taxable and what is not, etc.). One thing I recommend is getting your HST number first thing so that you can capture your startup costs and claim some ITCs as soon as possible. Kind of a mess of thoughts, but hope that helps.
  11. I must ask you to speak for yourself sir!
  12. Just wanted to resurrect to thank @cloud2010 for his generosity and openness above. I took the plunge in December, partially emboldened by this thread, and it's been exciting and, frankly, liberating so far. Also, on the strength of your advice I subscribed to CLIO which I now also strongly endorse.
  13. It seems like you prefer litigation. About working round the clock, I think litigators have to do this more often than solicitors for sure. But solicitors are on-call a lot more. Those times when a solicitor has to work night and day come without notice because they usually happen when something is imploding.
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