Eli Zbar

Eli Zbar

An entrepreneur with a license to sell legal advice, embracing technology and open to doing things that have not been done before.

A lot of lawyers resist doing anything in their practices that has not been done before. That doesn’t make sense to Eli Zbar. Eli started Arora Zbar LLP, with his law school friend and overall brilliant litigator, Ravneet Arora. Arora Zbar LLP launched during the Covid-19 pandemic and was virtual from the start. Eli utilizes legal technology to help streamline his processes, including building his own apps and automations. He works with a small team, tries to bring on a law student during the summer, and does not believe in accepting free labour. Although Eli is a lawyer, he prefers to describe himself as an entrepreneur with a license to sell legal advice rather than a lawyer.

Immediately after articling, Eli started his own practice. One of the drivers for going solo was his and his wife’s desire to spend part of each year travelling. They tested the idea out in 2019, when they spent time living off the grid in Fiji, a 45 minute drive from civilization. Being a fan of tech, Eli was not surprised that he was able to operate his business from the jungle of the south pacific almost seamlessly for a short time, using things like a VoIP phone number and a 3G hotspot, to run his new practice.

Technological innovation is what drives Eli and he has aggressively applied this passion to his practice. Outside of serving his clients, most of his energy goes toward building tech solutions that he hopes to be aggregate time savers. He sometimes works late into the night, and on weekends creating something that saves his team five minutes a day, knowing the time savings add up quickly. For example, Eli created the PriceMyConveyance.com app. After being asked over and over again how much he charges for a conveyance and having to respond with follow up questions, he decided to automate the process. Developing the app took him six months of many evenings and weekends, but the time it saves adds up. In the long run, it’s worth it. All of Eli’s legal tech innovation is aimed at the back office administration side of the firm with a focuses on taking the stress out of Law Society compliance. Eli is excited (yes, excited) to get audited by the Law Society, because he knows the auditor will be blown away with the firms’ ability to automate LSBC compliance processes. Every summer, Arora Zbar hires a Thomson Rivers University law student to do perform mock LSBC compliance audits, which gives the students experience they likely won’t get from articling. The firm’s eagerness to use technology and pay for good help when needed makes this high level of compliance possible.

You won’t find the words “client-centred” on Arora Zbar’s website. Lawyers are bound by Law Societies to do their best work for clients, so Eli does not think it is a point that needs to be advertised. The work Eli does for his clients extends past the traditional legal work he does for them. For example, he created a client onboarding process that uses several pieces of technology including Google Forms, Zapier, Clio, Asana, DocuSign, and Outlook that automatically takes care of a lot of steps that most lawyers and their staff spend hours on. Saving time for him and his staff is one benefit, but the biggest benefit is passed down to the clients who can expect their work to be done faster and for a reasonable cost.

As a professional behind-the-scenes guy, Eli feels lucky that Ravneet Arora (the smartest guy Eli knew in law school) joined him in a partnership in 2020. The two balance each other out and work extremely well together. As Eli puts it, Ravneet knows the answers to the questions and Eli knows what buttons to click to implement the solutions.

The LLP in Arora Zbar LLP has a double meaning-Lawyer Lifestyle Program. Eli and all of his staff and contractors work from home. He works a lot, but on his own terms, and loves the flexibility he has to turn down work, set his own schedule, or go for a bike ride at noon. He is focused on the firm making money, but there is no amount of money he would trade for being able to spend his mornings drinking coffee on the patio with his wife instead of rushing out to an office to work for someone else.

Many lawyers call Eli to ask him for advice on going solo. The reality of the prospect, he explains, is that you need to have some money saved up to start. You will make a bit less at first but if you keep at it, that can quickly change. Making an effort to stay connected with the legal community is important. You learn a lot from other lawyers and working solo does not mean going it alone.

Lawyers are generally very risk adverse, but Eli thinks the profession needs to be more open to embracing technology. Even though it may seem like a big hurdle at first, putting the front-end work into making a switch will help everyone in the long run. You will look back and wonder how you ever did things differently and why you didn’t do it sooner. Traditional lawyering might get you big lucrative files, but choosing to embrace technology can allow you to work in Fiji occasionally and serve your clients better. For Eli, the choice was easy.

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