e6. Charles Lamberton of Bracken Lamberton – How to Get Your Solo Practice Off the Ground Without Going Bankrupt

August 24, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Charles Lamberton is the owner of Lamberton Law Firm, which is in the process of a merger to become Bracken Lamberton. Charles is a Pittsburgh-based employment discrimination and wrongful termination attorney who has recovered millions of dollars for his clients. He represents executives, managers, and professionals in high-end discrimination retaliation, sexual harassment, and severance cases.

 

Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy
Available_Black copy
partner-share-lg
partner-share-lg
partner-share-lg

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Who is Charles Lamberton
  • Why Charles is transitioning from his solo practice to a partnership. 
  • Charles talks about what it was like starting his solo practice.
  • How Charles attracted clients to his independent firm. 
  • Why having an authentic brand is important.
  • How to use your authenticity to assert yourself in court early on.
  • Before you go out to start your practice, Charles has this last piece of advice for you.

In this episode…

What do you imagine it would cost to get your solo practice off the ground? Maybe you think you need to spend a lot on advertising for people to know who you are? Charles Lamberton says if you can’t afford to spend money on advertising when starting, you don’t have to. Instead, he suggests building a robust referral network and a fully Search Engine Optimized website. Curious to know what all of that entails?

Listen to the details in this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin. He interviews Charles Lamberton, owner of Lamberton Law Firm, about starting a solo practice on a minimal budget. Their conversation digs into details like how to attract clients, why an authentic brand is the lifeline of your solo practice, and more. 

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by Esq Marketing, your firm’s strategic search marketing partner. Esq Marketing helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search marketing and helping them land on the first page on Google so that clients can find you right away. We help companies ranging from those with 10 or less members to those with over 50 in their team, essentially creating a marketing department for them to help them reach potential clients with ease.

 

Episode Transcript

Prologue

You’re listening to the Esq.marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.marketing, where he features successful Solo and SMB Law Firms from all over the United States. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Matthew Laurin

:
Hey. I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.marketing, and you’re listening to the Esq.marketing Podcast, where I feature successful Solo and SMB Law Firms from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.marketing. We help law firms generate more clients and cases using search marketing.
Speaking of successful law firms, I’m excited to have Charles Lamberton of Bracken Lamberton on the show today. Charles is a Pittsburg Employment Discrimination Lawyer, and Wrongful Termination Attorney, who has recovered millions of dollars for his clients. He represents executives, managers, and professionals, and high-end discrimination, retaliation, sexual harassment, and severance cases. Charles, welcome to the show.

Charles Lamberton

:
Happy to be here.

Matthew Laurin

:

It’s pretty cool, man. We’ve had some unique attorneys on the show. We’ve had an insurance attorney. We’ve had a lemon law attorney, and a marketing person for a lemon law firm consumer rights protection, but never an employment lawyer.

Charles Lamberton

:

Excellent. All right. Well, breaking new ground.

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah, right. I know that you’re kind of in a transition phase for your brand in your firm. Are you able to share a little bit about what you have going on in the works?

Charles Lamberton

:

Sure, yeah. I have been essentially practicing solo for coming up on 20 years, and this last year I decided to merge practices with another lawyer in town here in Pittsburgh, who does both employment law like me, but also has a nice personal injury practice. We get along really, really well. He’s an aggressive lawyer. It’s a really good match.
We’re going through the process of constructing the new physical space, getting all the new contacts executed in the name of the new firm. Everything that you do when you merge practice with another lawyer. It’s tedious, but it’s exciting at the same time, and obviously, there’s a branding campaign that’s going on. You and I have talked a little bit about it in the past, and it was slowed down a little bit with the COVID-19 situation.

Matthew Laurin

:

For sure, yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

I think that kind of threw a wrench in a lot of people’s timelines, but things are moving again, now. We’re looking forward to launching the new website and the new print ads in the very near future.

Matthew Laurin

:

So, the merger of your two firms, your two brand, it’s kind of like a business play to expand your exposure, your referral network, or what kind of motivated that relationship?

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah, so all of the above. There’s always a little bit of a myth if you practice by your own that you might not be able to handle a certain kind of case that’s too big for you, or requires too many either human resources or financial resources. It’s getting away. I mean, it’s never been true for me because of the way I work, but there is a myth about that that starts to disappear the more attorney’s that you associate with.
I think there’s in employment law, and I’m not sure I’ve figured out the reason why this is, but if you look at the people who practice employment law, they tend to either be on their own or in very small firms. That’s just something that is true from city to city to city, across the county. Historically, it’s a very collegial bar, so we’ve always been able to pick up the phone and call our colleagues, bounce ideas off them, talk to them about factual situations and cases, share work product.
Even though these other lawyers are technically our competitors, we have that high degree of collegiality, but there’s nothing quite like having somebody that you’re really close to that you share space with, that you can just pop over, stick your head inside his or her office, bounce ideas off them, get a little moral support. It’s just a really good thing to have, and we anticipate that the firm is going to grow quite a bit in the next couple of years.

Matthew Laurin

:

That’s awesome. I love that. Yeah, and I see parallels in my industry to what you just said because I mean, obviously, we focus on SEO. I’ve been at other agencies, and other companies that focus on specific marketing, or whatever their specific skill set is, and it really helps to have referral partners and other professionals that you can tap. Because obviously, I mean, we know our strengths, but when you encounter someone that needs something different, it’s always cool to have a network that you can refer them to. So, it’s really neat that you guys could do that in the legal industry too.

Charles Lamberton

:

Cool, thank you.

Matthew Laurin

:

Charles, take me back to the beginning of when you started. So, you have the Lamberton Law Firm, which is the employment one before you merged these two. Take me back to the beginning. What was it like starting that firm off?

Charles Lamberton

:

So, about five or six years out of law school, I did the law firm thing, and you start to know a little bit about what you’re doing after five or six years. It actually takes that long to get a sense of, yeah, I can handle this case without a lot of coaching or input from other people.
I did not really enjoy being somebody else’s employee. There’s things that go along with that, that were unpleasant. I didn’t like working on somebody else’s schedule. I didn’t like being told what to do. I didn’t like the fact that when I got a good result on a case, the money went to somebody else.

Matthew Laurin

:

I can agree on that.

Charles Lamberton

:

Now, look, some people are very happy being employees. It’s nice and predictable. There’s a regular stream of income. You have some benefits, health insurance, and other things that you have to provide for on your own when you are on your own. But after about five or six years, I just kind of looked at how is it that I want to practice? Do I want to continue to be an employee and eventually a partner in a law firm? The answer to that was no. So, I went out on my own, and I didn’t have a lot of clients at the time.
So, it was a little bit of a risk, but it Pittsburg at least we have such a vibrant County Bar Association that if you take advantage of the opportunities it has to offer, all of the different sections and committees and different groups that you can get involved with, you meet so many other lawyers from disparate practice areas. You get to know them over time. The worst-case scenario is you’re making new friends, but all of these people, of course, are referral sources.
So, I really dove into that maybe the first four, five, six years that I was out on my own. I did have an advertising campaign, not substantial at the time, but to get the word out. Then just over the years, it grew.
The interesting thing to me has been that the internet has become just a really, really strong source of cases for me. More so in recent years than in years past. I’m not sure I know the reason for that. Maybe it’s just technology is becoming more pervasive and more and more have it. More and more people use their smartphones to do a quick search for a wrongful termination law. I’m not sure I know the answer, but I do know that I get more calls calling me because they found my website than attorney referrals, and it did not use to be that way.

Matthew Laurin

:

That’s cool. That’s cool, you see that changing, and I hear the referral aspect of it from a lot of people. Everyone I ask that question, it’s always like, “My primary source of clients was always referrals before I did any kind of marketing or any kind of intentional sales or any kind of campaigns like that.”

Charles Lamberton

:

Right. Yeah.

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah, I mean, I feel like that’s probably comforting to new attorneys that are trying to get out there and start their own firm. Like maybe their worried they got to spend a ton of money on advertising. Or “Oh, I got to get some billboards up,” or “Oh, I got to do some bus wraps or something.” Because obviously, you see some really successful attorneys that are out there really doing brand awareness, and that’s probably not the case just starting out. Right? I mean, you probably just have to get out there and network.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah. It’s all about networking, and then I’d say right behind that is well two things. Making good impressions when you are networking.

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

So, you want to sound like you know what you’re talking about. Do presentations. Give talks. Invite questions about issues in your practice area, and then talk about your results. If you just got a jury verdict last week for whatever reason, mention it, and make sure people know that you’re successful at what you do. That increases the probability that you’re going to be referring cases to you.

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah. That’s good social proof.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah, absolutely.

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah. I know that’s something we’re working on constantly, too, as we do this new startup. It’s just getting reviews from current clients. I think a lot of businesses and attorney’s like underestimate the value of that. I mean, it can be really powerful to have reviews on your site.

Charles Lamberton

:

Absolutely.

Matthew Laurin

:

Especially when you can mention a monetary win.

Charles Lamberton

:

Absolutely.

Matthew Laurin

:

Charles, during the course of your career, running your firm. What has given you the most traction or results in terms of the initiative? Like networking or any other kind of marketing. Where have you seen the best returns or the best results?

Charles Lamberton

:

I think the website, frankly. I found good people as I think, you know.

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

They did a really good job for me for a lot of years, and there’s something about, I think, the picture that’s depicted on the homepage that when people come across it, they stop, and they read a little bit about what’s on there. Then I get an email, or I get a phone call. The website has been, and the money spent on the SEO.

Matthew Laurin

:

There he is, right there.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah. There I am.

Matthew Laurin

:

For the video portion of this, I thought people might like to see that.

Charles Lamberton

:

Thank you. That’s been what has cost people to reach out. I mean, there are a lot of law firms out there that put up these smiling headshots of their attorneys, and that’s fine. But what ends up happening is you like every other lawyer that is advertising their services. People, especially on the plaintiff’s side, they’re looking for someone, and hey, I’m not saying I’m the only guy out there that’ll fight for a client, but they’re looking for the appearance of something who will do that for them, and that is what you’re projecting on your website. Because they haven’t called you yet. All they’re seeing is a depiction of you. You want that projection of you to project your brand and what you’re going to deliver for the client. I’m not sure if it’s luck that this picture came out the way it did. I mean, you know how it is with these photoshoots.

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

You take 750 pictures, and if you end up with five that look good, you’re lucky. But this is one that just sort of caught the photographer’s eye, and when I shared it with the web design people, they said, “Oh, yeah. We’re building the site around this.” You know, to this day, even though this website is not super new anymore, it seems to be the thing that gets people to stop calling lawyers and call me. Then I have some facility with establishing a relationship on the phone and moving that conversation to the next phase if it’s a good case.

Matthew Laurin

:

I love that. Yeah. That’s really cool.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah.

Matthew Laurin

:

One take away that other attorneys looking at this can have is you’ve really done a good job whether you intended to or not of humanizing your brand. Even with larger companies, when someone can deal with the owner or the person who’s running the company and they can see that person as the frontman. As the person who’s going to be there in contact with them on a regular basis. I feel like that kind of puts people at ease, rather than more of an ominous presence where maybe you’re going to deal with someone. Maybe you’re going to deal with the owner, or maybe you’re going to deal with the person who’s listed on the website, or maybe you’re just going to be handed off to another employee.

Charles Lamberton

:

Right.

Matthew Laurin

:

I think that might be why you’ve had some success with this.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah, it could be.

Matthew Laurin

:

There’s a particular way you positioned it.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah, that investment has been what has paid off the most. Now, look, you cast with your website. You’re casting a broad net.

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

You get people calling you who don’t have cases. Maybe they’re a little off, to say the least, and maybe one out of every 25 calls is a case that you’re interested in and that you might sign up for one purpose or another. But it only takes one out of 25, or one out of 50, and a good result there to really make a difference in your annual income.

Matthew Laurin

:

Did you have the site just starting out? Like when you went off on your own, were you like, I need to do the site, and I need to set up

crosstalk 00:16:03

?

Charles Lamberton

:

Well, there was a different one. It was not as good.

Matthew Laurin

:

Okay.

Charles Lamberton

:

It was there, but it was a little bit more generic.

Matthew Laurin

:

Okay, and then as time went on, did you start saying like, “Hey, I need to really focus on investing in it.”?kiop98.,

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah. I started thinking about what is my brand? What is it that I bring to the table in my cases? Once I had some words to, sort of, describe that, then I said to myself, “What is the visual depiction of my brand?” I started working with some companies that could create a website that provided that visual description of the brand that I wanted to project. I think the other thing that’s important is the brand that you project should be authentic.

Matthew Laurin

:

Agreed, I 100% agree.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah. I mean, you don’t want to project something that is not going to be there if you sign a case up because then your clients going to feel like they were hoodwinked, or opposing counsel is going to create an impression that you’re not an honest person or something.
So, whatever you’re creating on your website in the perceptions of the people who are seeing it, ought to be something authentic that you can deliver. If you do sign a case up and certainly if you’re litigating it. It should be something that you show to everyone—your client, opposing counsel, the judge, and jury, if the case jury tries. I think that’s a really important thing.

Matthew Laurin

:

I did not know that. That’s a really interesting perspective, so that plays a role, huh? Like the persona that you project in your marketing, that plays a role when you’re litigating cases?

Charles Lamberton

:

Well, that dude on the homepage, that’s me, right? I mean, there are lawyers I know, for example, in Pittsburgh that are so smart it freaks me out a little bit. I’m like how do their brains operate? Like what I could do with 10% of their cerebral capacity if I had it. They’re just like whoa!! But they’ve got all those smarts, but they might have a little social anxiety.

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

And they may not like getting into the courtroom. They may be great at writing briefs or at thinking of ideas for cases, but if they had to get up and argue something in court, they’d start shaking from their nerves.

Matthew Laurin

:

I could see that. I can see that.

Charles Lamberton

:

There are other lawyers who have different things that they bring to the table. What I bring to the table is I get a case if it’s a case I believe in, and those are the only cases that I sign up. I immerse myself in it. I don’t have a high-volume practice. That’s by choice. I cross every T and dot every I, and I am spending Friday nights, late, I am working on my cases because I want to be doing that. That is what I bring to the table.
When I get into a deposition, or I get into court, that intensity, whatever is going on inside of me that motivates me to approach my cases that way is there, but amped up even some more. Because you’re confronting opposing counsel. You’re delivering something to a judge. You’re trying to persuade a jury, and so it’s amplified even more. That’s what I bring to the table. I’m smart enough. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but am I the smartest? No, I wouldn’t say that. But I really, really, really dig in on my cases. Because litigation is, on a good day, it’s just adversarial.
You really do need to send a message early on lawyers representing the other side who’s boss. Some lawyers for better or for worse. They think that they can you know get away with certain things, or talk a certain way, or try to intimidate your client. You need to have the sort of the ability to shut that down, shut it down fast, and assert yourself as the Alpha in the room.

Matthew Laurin

:

That is badass.

Charles Lamberton

:

Well, it’s true. There’s a fine line between like I said it’s got to be authentic, and the legal profession is a profession, and you have to stay within the bounds of professionalism. You can’t sit there and scream at people or threaten them.

Matthew Laurin

:

Sure, yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

But there’s a way of doing it, and if you’re going to litigate cases, you have to be able to do that. Otherwise, your client’s, they’re already disadvantaged, at least in my practice area. They are, more often than not, working-class people that had something bad happen to them at work. They’ve lost a job. They don’t have anywhere near the resources of the company that has fired them or demoted them or whatever the case is, Unless they have a very strong advocate to stand up for them, they’ll get eaten alive. It’s our job, I think, to eat the other side.

Matthew Laurin

:

Well, that’s great, man. That’s great that we got people out there like you that are so passionate about it, and that take your

crosstalk 00:22:55

.

Charles Lamberton

:

Oh, thanks. So, that’s a long rambling.

Matthew Laurin

:

No. I think that’s really valuable to hear, especially the part about letting the other side know who’s boss. I totally get what you’re saying, just portraying an image of authority based on knowledge and experience and passion for what you do. So, I do feel like that’s really powerful for your clients.

Charles Lamberton

:

Thank you.

Matthew Laurin

:

Charles, if there’s an attorney out there’s an attorney out there who’s thinking about going out on their own and starting their own practice, what’s one piece of advice that you’d give him or her?

Charles Lamberton

:

Think through the pros and cons. That seems obvious, but the pros are you have a lot of control over how you spend your time. Okay, and when you’re going to be working. When you’re not going to be working. The freedom to, like I said earlier, if you want to work late on a Friday, you can do that. If you don’t want to work on a Thursday, you don’t have to work on a Thursday. That freedom, to me, is a very valuable thing, and there are other things that go hand-in-hand with that when you’re your own boss.
The downsides are in this line of work, in plaintiff’s representation, and in others, income tends to be irregular. You don’t have a biweekly paycheck of X dollars every two weeks. That’s just not the way you bring in your money. So, you have to be able to roll with that. Plan that over the long-term, I may not bring a case home and get it settled or get money in on a verdict this week, but six weeks from now, I will. Then, it’ll all average out. Once you see that pattern emerge, and once you’ve built up some financial resources, it becomes much easier to sort of roll with that part of being on your own, the irregularity of the income.
Then the last thing that I would just say really quick is don’t be an island. Practicing on your own does not mean you have to shut yourself off from other lawyers. You don’t get and involved in the Bar Association. No, it’s all the more reason to do those things. Make relationships, get involved, network, hustle. That’s how you build a practice. It’s very difficult to build a law practice from inside a law office behind the desk.

Matthew Laurin

:

That’s great advice, Charles.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah, thanks.

Matthew Laurin

:

Awesome. We’ve been listening to Charles Lamberton of Bracken Lamberton. Charles, where can people go to find out more about you and what you do?

Charles Lamberton

:

Well, right now, because the Bracken Lamberton, although we have the domain, the website’s not up and running because of the delay of COVID. Right now, they go to LambertonLaw.com. That’s where they see the website that you showed a little earlier, and if they want to see anything about my partner, that’s BrackenLawFirm.com.

Matthew Laurin

:

Awesome. Awesome. Cool. Well, thanks for doing this, Charles. I really appreciate it. It’s always fun talking to you.

Charles Lamberton

:

Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for the invitation.

Thanks for listening to the Esq.marketing Podcast. We’ll see you again next time and be sure to click subscribe to get future episodes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *