Elizabeth dreamed of being an attorney ever since she was a little girl. But her journey into the legal industry wasn’t without some exciting detours.
Company: Good Counsel Services Inc.
Location: New York, NY, USA
No tool to easily track hours spent on pro bono cases
FreshBooks Time Tracking
Greater transparency with clients
After receiving my undergraduate degree, I chose not to apply for law school. Instead, I chose to follow my passion for creating positive, global social change. Nearly a decade passed until I learned that without law school, it would be difficult for me to actualize the changes I wanted to see—at least at the level I was looking to achieve.
I decided to take a step back and, with the strong psychological support of my husband, I attended law school at night. While school was stressful and time-consuming, that didn’t mean I had to put the rest of my life on hold. As the sole source of income for my family, I continued to work full time. I endured this lifestyle for 6 years until I finally graduated and then studied for, took, and passed five bar exams—where I’m now admitted in 5 jurisdictions: New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, California, and Florida.
Why I Decided to Leap Into Entrepreneurship
My desire to start a business didn’t happen overnight. I was a full-time nonprofit executive for an organization called Keren Or—a position I still have today. Being part of that organization, I learned there are many issues nonprofits are unaware of, which could quickly escalate into unintentional legal and business problems. From that point on, I felt like I needed to be the educator—the source of legal guidance for these people. That’s when I decided to start my own organization.
Today, I’m the proud founder of Good Counsel Inc., a legal services not for profit organization for both nonprofit and startup companies. Our organization has a couple of specialties. First, we work with our nonprofit clients to provide them with the legal support they need. Second, Good Counsel regularly hosts Lunch-and-Learn workshops at the Center for Social Innovation in Manhattan. Our goal is to be a resource for social entrepreneurs and equip them with the information they need for accounting and finance, marketing and communications, and resources and development.
As a legal professional, it’s important for me to keep track of the time I spend on client projects.
My First Introduction to FreshBooks
I first discovered FreshBooks through our accounting and finance workshops. An individual who was interested in hosting a workshop said the product was a great alternative to some other services in the market. From there, I started using FreshBooks and, since then, I’ve shared it with my entire team.
Time Tracking: It’s Simple to Keep Track of Our Client Projects
As a legal professional, it’s important for me to keep track of the time I spend on client projects. Time tracking doesn’t only benefit me; my entire team can also log their time, so we can see exactly where our efforts are going.
Invoicing: A Valuable Tool I Use for Both Paying Clients and Pro Bono Cases
At Good Counsel, we’re different from a traditional law firm—we’re really rooted in nonprofit practices. That means we look to foundations, grants, and individuals to underwrite our costs, but we do still bill our clients for our time but on a sliding scale based on their revenues. In addition, we sometimes take on pro bono cases. While these aren’t billable projects, through FreshBooks invoicing, we’re able to share the work that’s been done with our clients—which helps maintain a great level of transparency.
Looking Ahead: FreshBooks Can Help Better Serve Future Legal Services Professionals
For me, FreshBooks goes beyond cloud accounting. It also serves as a platform to educate my student interns. Most of my students aspire to become attorneys after they graduate. So, in the real world, they’ll need to be able to explain how they spend their time. Time tracking on FreshBooks—amongst other features—can help them do just that.
If I could help create the habit of using FreshBooks while they’re a student of mine, hopefully they’ll be able to carry that with them as they finish their studies and start to practice. While accounting, in general, has been a bit of a learning curve for my students, FreshBooks is such a user-friendly tool that I haven’t heard any complaints.
Beyond my student base, I’ve started to recommend the platform to a few of our clients in the startup space. I would encourage other small businesses (including law firms) to consider using FreshBooks just like I did. The most value would be for entrepreneurs who may not have the finances to afford a large software system. So, at this stage, they just need a simple and easy-to-use solution—and that’s exactly what FreshBooks is for me and my growing business.
Headshot photo credit: Bernice Wooden, Be Nice Productions