The Lawyers Weekly and Canadian Lawyer recently interviewed Peter Aprile to gain his thoughts and experiences on starting Building NewLaw (“BNL”) and the advice he would give to other lawyers thinking about starting a legal podcast.
The Lawyers Weekly and Canadian Lawyer used a portion of the interviews to create the articles entitled ‘Legal podcasts generating growing audiences’ and ‘Podcasting the law’. We encourage interested readers to click the article images to read the original articles.
The Lawyers Weekly and Canadian Lawyer, understandably, left some content on the cutting room floor, so we have decided to take this opportunity to highlight some of the important points and add some bonus content to compliment the article.
Bonus questions & answers
Why did you start Building NewLaw?
- We are podcast fans. We thought about launching a tax podcast, but we imagined that the tax podcast audience was...limited.
- We started Building NewLaw to connect people and ideas. We spent four years building Counter into the kind of law firm we’d want if we were in our clients’ shoes. We built new tax litigation methodologies, processes, software, and other tools. We didn’t know any other law firms trying to do the same thing. We wanted to connect our firm with other people and ideas.
- We are using Building NewLaw as a platform to learn from other creative, hardworking, and obsessive people pushing to do better. We believe that, together, we can create the new law firm standard.
How long have you been doing it?
- In October 2015, we started developing the concept, and learning about equipment and production. In March 2016, we launched season one with four episodes.
- We have since released one BNL interview every month, but we are about to launch a second monthly segment entitled “ASK BNL” which will give listeners the opportunity to ask us any NewLaw questions using our online voicemail widget. We will play the questions on the Ask BNL segment and – if we don’t have the answer – we will ask past or upcoming guests to lend a hand.
Have there been any challenges (or rewards) you weren’t expecting at the outset?
- Admittedly, we did not anticipate the time and effort required to build the podcast. My wife recently asked whether I started another business without letting her know. I explained that it was not my intention, and then I joke that she will be much happier when all that podcast money starts rolling in.
Who is your intended audience and what are you aiming to provide to them?
- Primarily, lawyers trying to do great work and build great law firms.
- Anyone in the legal industry, and entering the legal industry, that are driven to create superb work, solve problems, and make some noise.
- We hope to provide a little information, connection to the NewLaw community, and a lot of inspiration change the practice of law.
What has been the reaction to the show at your firm?
- At first, I think that there was some skepticism. However, the team loves it. It has helped the firm share and grow. We all listen, and the podcast helps keeps everyone connected. It generates some great conversation around the office. In fact, we use a couple of the episodes as part of our employee onboarding process (e.g., the workflow episode is necessary listening for all new Counter team members).
Have you had much feedback from listeners?
- We have received some great comments and support. The energy has been very positive, and it keeps us going. We have connected with so many great lawyers and other people who have shared ideas, insight, and questions.
- A lot of people have expressed an interest in participating in the podcast or asking questions. In fact, the feedback has led us to add another segment, Ask BNL, to give the NewLaw community an opportunity to ask us, past guests, or upcoming guests any questions and contribute to the podcast.
- We hope that listeners will record NewLaw questions using our voicemail widget on our website. We intend to play the questions on the Ask BNL segment and provide answers. And, if we don’t know the answer, we will ask our guests to lend a hand. We believe that Ask BNL will give the community an opportunity to contribute to the show and connect.
What is your listenership?
- At this time, we know that we average roughly 700 listeners per episode excluding iTunes listeners. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get complete statistics (e.g., iTunes does not publish statistics), but it seems that more than 700 people are enjoying the podcast. Unlike other podcasts, BNL does not have any sponsors and we don’t try to generate any revenue, but word continues to spread and the podcast is growing.
How can podcasts (hosting or being a guest) fit into an overall marketing plan/building yourself as a legal expert?
- We did not design BNL as part of any marketing plan. We just wanted to share our experience, and connect with other inspired and smart people working hard to be better lawyers or change the practice of law. We believe that speaking with like-minded people will make us all better, faster, and stronger.
- BNL has made us a better law firm and better tax lawyers. We joke that Counter is in perpetual beta and BNL is a symptom of that worldview. The BNL “Why & How” page gives some great background.
- It isn’t any more complicated or part of any grand plan. If marketing Counter was the primary goal, I could think of a lot of other marketing efforts with better ROI. If listeners enjoy it and if it helps to make other lawyers build a better practice, that’s great. If BNL helps other lawyers learn about Counter, how we practice, and the caliber of our work, that’s great too.
- I believe that BNL’s ROI is the people that we have met and the ideas that we have acquired and built into our law firm. Generally speaking, we take one idea from every episode and use it to make our law firm better. I’m not sure how to measure that.
- I do know that it’s hard to find reliable and like-minded lawyers and referral sources producing high-caliber work. BNL has helped us engage and identify more practitioners to which we can comfortably refer work.
- Andrew Currier (PCK IP) is a great example. We met Andrew because we heard that PCK IP shared Counter’s philosophy. We interviewed Andrew, and we were both very surprised that our path and experiences were so similar. BNL gave us the opportunity to learn how Andrew and PCK IP tick. We continue to meet to discuss building client-centric and technology-driven law firms, and leverage our knowledge and new experiences. Although PCK IP is in close proximity to our Toronto office, BNL sparked a conversation and forge a relationship that we would have missed. George Beaton, Peter Carayiannis, and Seth Godin (yes, Seth Godin) provide similar examples. At the same time, if BNL helps other lawyers learn about Counter, how we practice, and the caliber of our work, that’s great too.
- Our guests have told us that they have really enjoyed the BNL podcast experience and reported that BNL was a great way for them to reach new, and sometimes unexpected, audiences. It’s been a good opportunity and platform for our guests to stand up, share what they are building, gain some attention, and connect with the NewLaw community.
Who are your podcast/broadcast influences? Do you listen to any other podcasts yourself, legal or otherwise?
- Yes, I listen to several podcasts and audio talks every morning as soon as I wake up. Admittedly, I need to turn the volume louder than my family’s playful grumbling about listening to Zig Ziglar’s southern drawl or Adam LaFrance’s voice at 7 am.
- I listen to about 41 podcasts and rotate depending on topic or mood including Ted Talks, The Lowe Post, the Lawyerist, Recode Decode, Legal Rebels, Freakonomics, Unemployable, and Profit BusinessCast.
- We are always looking for ways to make the podcast better, so I listen to Building NewLaw a lot (as narcissistic as that may sound).
To learn more about the podcast, listen to all the episodes, or learn about BNL’s CPD accreditation click this link. You wouldn’t regret it.