Systemizing Your Firm and Niching Down Your Practice with Jay Ruane

We all know how busy law firms can get. You alone, as a lawyer and owner, can’t accomplish every single thing needed for trials and consultations. The whole firm needs to work together to make things happen. That said, it’s critical to have an efficient system in place to ensure that everyone gets all their tasks done seamlessly. A systematic law firm allows your employees to grow and helps you focus on being a better lawyer. 

In this episode, premier DUI defense lawyer Jay Ruane joins us to discuss the importance of systemizing your firm. He also delves into narrowing down your law niche, for him as a DUI defense lawyer, and the key to honing your expertise. Jay shares actionable strategies you can immediately implement to start systemizing your practice. Finally, he introduces strategies and a tool he uses to attain efficiency with his time.

If you want to know more about how you can develop an efficient system for your firm, then this episode is for you!

Here are three reasons why you should listen to this episode:

  1. Learning the advantages of narrowing down your niche.
  2. Find out how developing a system for your firm can help you focus on lawyering better and boost staff efficiency.
  3. Discover a tool you can use that will help you accomplish your daily tasks and goals.


Episode Highlights

Jay’s Background

  • Jay Ruane runs a law firm in Connecticut.
  • He started his career in the 90s as a public defender, making only $100 a day. After getting passed over for a permanent job, he went to his solo-practicing father’s office.
  • Jay hustled into the courthouse to make money. He got deep into the DUI defense lawyer community and built up a successful practice.
  • When he wasn’t focusing on law, he would focus on the business of law. Now, Jay has a systemized firm that allows him to spend more time with his family.

Jay Ruane: “I have four kids under 12 at home, and I'm able to spend a lot of time with them, so what I put into place starting in the year 2000 is finally coming to fruition.”

  • Jay also co-wrote the book Tiger Tactics that talks about different lawyers’ journeys to building a law firm.

Honing Your Expertise

  • There were not a lot of DUI defense lawyers and trials in Connecticut when Jay started. 
  • During conferences, Jay searched for a prominent DUI defense lawyer in the area. He watched their trials or visited their office to get an idea of how to run his business.
  • Some lawyers are not willing to put in the work to learn everything about running a firm effectively.
  • However, you won't understand how to make something work if you only throw money at it.
  • A little bit of knowledge goes a long way. Jay would spend his nights and weekends reading business books.

Jay Ruane: “Law school teaches you how to walk, and then you start a marathon. So many people think that the marathon was law school, and then once they get done, it's supposed to just happen for you. But law school really just taught you how to walk.”

Keep Taking Action 

  • You have to have a short-term memory and a bias towards action.
  • Hesitation is natural because of the negative pressure of putting yourself out there.
  • You can start to improve your organization by analyzing how other organizations systemize their operations. 
  • The key to success is doing the things that will move you forward every single day. There are no days off.

How Jay Niched Down to Being a DUI Defense Lawyer

  • Jay had to cover cases his father couldn’t attend to after getting appointed to handle a serious murder case.
  • He covered the cases in the mornings and figured out how to make his business grow in the afternoons.
  • He employed the help of his brother to build a website for his firm. His brother then suggested they structure it around one area of law.

Narrowing Down Your Niche

  • Presently, Jay is further narrowing down his niche to marijuana-related DUI cases. 

Jay Ruane: “I'm learning as much as I can, even to this day. It's all about narrowing the niche and owning the area.”

  • Jay's firm accommodates most criminal cases. But presently, they're targeting particular markets based on the avatar of their lawyers.
  • He shares that his DUI defense lawyer practice takes on other criminal cases as well. Lawyers take on the cases based on their niche.
  • Their firm was able to survive COVID-19 thanks to their creative marketing.

Systemizing the Firm

  • It was March 2008 when Jay decided he needed to systemize his firm. 
  • He instructed his assistants to list down everything they do in the office. From there, they started building out a Word document with instructions. 
  • The system went from binders, to shared documents on a file server, to Google Drive, to a website. 
  • Now, they’re auditing their systems by creating Loom videos, among others.

Jay: “It's constantly a part and parcel of running the firm, but it allows me to step away and know that if my assistant who handles payroll isn't available because she got hit by a truck or is taking a vacation day, somebody else knows when to step in and knows how to do what needs to be done.”

Leveraging Employees in Developing an Effective System

  • The first thing to do in systemizing is to develop a system for creating the systems.
  • Jay suggests putting up employee contests and giving out financial rewards.
  • The first rule for business owners: see what you can use and what talent you can leverage.
  • Your employees will then know how to do their tasks as efficiently as possible. 

Jay: "Tap that knowledge and document it, and you're going be able to then elevate them to do stuff that uses their brain better, and you're going to put yourself in a better place with your business.”

How Systemizing Your Firm Allows You to Elevate as a Lawyer

  • Jay is a big proponent of the chapter method of cross-examination when working with DUI cases.
  • Therefore, a system that nurtures efficient task delegation between employees allows him to focus on elevating his legal skill.

Jay: “The more systemized you are, the better your lawyering is going to be.”

The Quickest Way to Start Systemizing

  • Start a Google Doc or any shared document on any platform that everybody in your office can access.
  • One page will be the index page. The documentations will be down below.
  • Once you have a document, figure out how to organize it and what service or software to use. 
  • What gets you to build systems is building systems successfully, not purchasing software subscriptions.

Attaining Efficiency with Your Time as a Lawyer or Law Firm Owner

  • Jay started putting effort into developing a system for his days about three years ago.
  • They have a new lawyer in their firm focusing on civil rights work. Jay has to cover for some of his work as he started working with exonerees.
  • Most court schedules in Connecticut are mornings. So, Jay designated different areas to work on every day for his afternoons. 

Moshe: “There's a ton of value in doing one specific type of function in a block of time because that allows your brain to be in that mode and work in that mode during that time.”

  • Listen to the full episode to learn about Jay’s weekly system!

How to Stick to Goals and Continue Taking Action

  • Getting pulled into a million different directions as a father has been one of Jay’s biggest problems.

Jay: “Setting goals was never a problem; it was accomplishing goals.”

  • So, Jay asked his brother for help to automate accountability. They first used emails to send out reminders, but it didn’t work.
  • Jay found that 98% of text messages get opened within three minutes upon receiving them.
  • So, reminders will be pinged through SMS. Called Finilize, the program ensures that you’re staying on tasks, accomplishing them, and checking them off your list.

Narrowing Down and Scheduling Tasks Using Finilize

  • Finilize users can list down daily tasks in different categories.
  • Jay’s six daily tasks are critical work function, important work function, business marketing tasks, business networking tasks, personal health, and personal wellness.
  • It’s about utilizing the tool as best for you and your needs.
  • You can try it for three days for only a dollar. 

Jay’s One Piece of Advice for Lawyers

  • Recognize that you're in this career for a long time. You won't always see instant results.
  • Put in the time, effort, and be consistent with your practice. Know what your vision is and march towards that without delay.

About DUI Defense Lawyer Jay

Jay Ruane is known as Connecticut's premier DUI defense lawyer. He and his father established Ruane Attorneys At Law, LLC, focusing on criminal defense and DUI cases. Jay also advocates for DUI defense lawyer education, devoting a minimum of 40 hours yearly to provide lectures.

In addition, Jay has a social media marketing agency exclusive for lawyers, along with an automated daily accountability product. All his verticals found success, from a solo practice to multiple practice groups generating consistent seven-figure revenues. Jay is also an Amazon best-selling author in the law practice management category.

Interested to know more about DUI defense lawyer Jay’s work? Visit Ruane Attorneys, FirmFlex, and Finilize. You can also connect with Jay on his website, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

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