How attorney Nick Graham built FreshLease, an online software to generate up to date residential leases, anytime, anywhere.
FreshLease is an expert system helping landlords create a professional, up-to-date lease anytime, anywhere. They've built a sophisticated residential lease generator that they are constantly updating to meet the ever-changing state of the law and best practices. We interviewed attorney and founder Nick Graham, a partner at the law firm Strang Parish & Graham on his process and how he turned his expertise into a valuable and efficient tool for landlords. We also get a sneak peak into new content they're building to inform and educate landlords.
Husbandand father with a knack for building systems that matter for people who care.
The problem: Landlords (particularly those self-managing properties) seldom call lawyers to draft residential leases. Instead, most Landlords search Google - or ask a well-meaning friend who did - and prepare their own. These leases are often outdated, poorly written, and expose Landlords to unnecessary liability.
The “ah-ha” moment: When clients use a lease I’ve drafted(which is routinely updated), they seldom have problems. And when they do, it makes my job easy. In my experience, most landlord/tenantlitigation could have been avoided with a “better” lease. So, we built an automated platform whereLandlords can access a professional, up-to-date lease on their own time andterms.
Two things: we built a website, then connected a platform. The website conveys what we do and why Landlords should care. The platform was built, of course, on Documate (conditional logic, repeating variables, etc.). Documate allows the lease to become a “living” document that adapts to the Landlord’s needs. The rest is history.
Todate, we’ve largely relied on word-of-mouth. That said, we’re launching a series of videos (tips, stories, legalupdates, etc.) to raise awareness and - most importantly - trust. We’re very clear on who FreshLease is (andisn’t) for. We’re proud that FreshLeaseisn’t for every Landlord. So, we tellstories to Landlords that want to listen.
Attorneydrafted leases are a dime a dozen. SmartLandlords aren’t impressed that a lawyer drafted the document. Rather, they seek a lease that is continuallyupdated as laws and industry best practices change. We do that better than the rest.
We often quip that most leases prepared by attorneys bear anuncomfortable resemblance to the dusty file cabinets from the law offices whichthey came. Lawyers are busy practicinglaw. Carefully monitoring one specificarea and updating their documents accordingly (without a paying client to bill)simply doesn’t happen.
Even worse, attorneys are occasionally exposed when theirdocuments inadvertently use the wrong pronoun or - we’ve been told - the nameof a former client. Ouch. With FreshLease, Members receive anup-to-date lease (incorporating the latest legal developments) and noembarrassing clerical errors (thanks Documate!).
Books: The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It by Michael Gerber. Argues quite convincingly that your systems (not your smarts) will determine your success. Also, Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself by Mike Michalowicz is another great book regarding “automating” any business (applies to a law practice, too).
Podcasts: Work the System with Josh Fonger discusses workings “on” your business rather than “in'' your business. Akimbo with Seth Godin will challenge you to see things others miss (and other impressive riffs on making change happen).
What would you be doing if youweren’t a lawyer?
Findinginteresting problems to solve, then building automated systems to deliver thesolution.
We surveyed 50 lawyers in corporate law, family law, and estate planning. The verdict? Over 90% in time savings through legal document automation.
Before and after of an estate planning firm who Documated their process.
Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and Southwestern Law school joined forces to build technology tools for the expungement process in California.
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