Is Your Law Firm Intake Process Good Enough?

April 14, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Chris MullinsChris Mullins is the “Phone Sales Doctor” and Founder and CEO of Intake Academy, where she educates lawyers and law firm staff on how to convert callers and qualify good cases. For over 25 years, she has helped law firms around the country convert prospects into clients. At Intake Academy, Chris serves consumer law firms, specialty dental practices, and other select businesses through lead conversion staff training, customized lead conversion scripts, call center performance assessments, and much more. Previously, Chris was the CEO of Mullins Media Group, which offered consultation, training, online seminars, and motivational seminars.

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

  • Chris Mullins discusses the two types of scripts your intake specialists need to use.
  • The RMFD approach: Report, Monitor, Feedback, Daily.
  • How does Chris train intake specialists?
  • The best way to respond to leads—including after-hour leads.
  • Strategies for creating a positive intake experience.
  • How can marketing and advertising vendors support the intake process?
  • Learn how to get a free critique of one of your prospect phone calls.

In this episode…

For any law firm, great marketing is not enough if your prospects don’t convert. So, what are the best intake strategies for creating a positive intake experience? And how can you support your intake team to convert more prospects into clients?

According to Chris Mullins, if you don’t have an intake team, you don’t have a law firm. With over 25 years of experience helping law firms with their intake process, Chris knows what works—and what doesn’t—when it comes to intake calls. Using her tried-and-true approach, Chris shares how to self-critique calls, seek out opportunities for improvement, and build relationships with call centers.

In this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast, Matthew Laurin sits down with Chris Mullins, “Phone Sales Doctor” and Founder and CEO of Intake Academy, to discuss everything your firm needs to know about intake processes. Chris talks about how to use scripts as a guide, monitoring calls as a leader and learner, and the best tips for supporting your intake team. Plus, Chris shares a special offer just for Esq.Marketing Podcast listeners! Stay tuned.

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

Intro 0:04

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 0:22

Hello, everyone. I’m Matthew Laurin, president of Esq.Marketing. And you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where we share success stories to help build your practice. Today, we are joined by Chris Mullins, Chris known as the phone sales doctor for more than 25 years has helped hundreds of law firms around the country convert more prospects into clients. Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Mullins 0:42

Thank you so much. I appreciate it

Matthew Laurin 0:45

was a pretty brief introduction. Is there anything I’m missing in there?

Chris Mullins 0:49

No, no? Nice. I think it gets straight to the point. So that’s okay.

Matthew Laurin 0:53

Great. Today’s topic is about determining if your law firms intake process is good enough. A lot of our clients have marketing programs in place, paid advertising, SEO, email, what have you. So once those prospects come into, or notice their law firm and come into their practice in the form of phone calls, or form fields or things like that, often, there’s a whole nother piece of the puzzle for them trying to figure out and converting those people into paying clients. And that’s where you, that’s what you specialize in, correct?

Chris Mullins 1:27

Right? Exactly. I mean, at the end of the day, great marketing is not enough. If your prospects don’t convert.

Matthew Laurin 1:38

You’re totally right. If If you have all these money invested in marketing, and you’re bringing in leads, and they don’t turn into anything, that it’s all pretty much sunk costs.

Chris Mullins 1:49

In law firms, you know, they get really excited about marketing, and all the different types of marketing. And they throw a lot of money at it, which is really important, and they should do it. But they completely forgot about intake, they forgot to add intake to their marketing team.

Matthew Laurin 2:09

So you help law firms get up to set up with your own intake specialist. Right. They do the intake process for your clients.

Chris Mullins 2:19

Yeah, well, pretty much what we do is, if a law firm is looking to hire intake specialists, we provide some interviewing to help them with that process. But the main thing that we do is we inspect with experts. So we listen to the law firms recorded phone calls, and we will review them and critique them. And then we coach and train their intake team on how to improve conversion based on the call recordings that we listened to. And we’ve heard.

Matthew Laurin 2:53

So do your intake specialists use scripts at all?

Chris Mullins 2:57

Yes, and the thing about scripts is, you really should call them scripts to get your team used to the s word scripts and the other s word sales because intake specialists are not typically hired that way. And they should be. So you should definitely call it what it is. It’s a script. You don’t want your intake team to sound robotic, which most people think is how a script is used. But it’s used in many different ways. A script really is a roadmap and a cheat sheet with the right type of sales language, that your intake specialist needs to guide them through the process. So you should have two types of scripts. One should be the typical one that most law firms are familiar with, which is screening questions. So don’t just throw your intake specialists on the phone, have some screening questions for each type of practice area that you have. And those really would come from, you know, like the lawyer or the law team at your law firm. knowing what’s the minimum questions the intake specialist has to ask to qualify that prospect to get to the next step whatever it is at your law firm some is let’s sign DocuSign retainer on the spot some it’s scheduling an appointment or you might need to let that prospect know that you can’t help them see that it has screening questions. And then the other kind of script is like we have one that we call a five step relationship sales conversion script. This script is a sales language is built around your intake screening questions to guide your intake specialist to do all the the empathy the sales language, the love care and concern, build the trust in the relationship and intimacy and then kind of close it with a big wow by the end of the phone conversation to get them away from just licensing and registration question answer question answer for Answer.

Matthew Laurin 5:02

My favorite part about what you said was at the beginning about how you use scripts, but you don’t want people to sound robotic. And I think a lot of times people have that connotation in their head that you’re using a script. And it always reminds me of our subject who was a sales guru I listened to. And he talked about using scripts. And he said, My favorite story he had was about people being in a movie, like When’s the last time you were in a movie? And you said to your friend, oh, this is horrible. They’re reading from a script. You’re right, they have to act as a roadmap, they have to use those as a guide to to feel more natural later on.

Chris Mullins 5:45

Yeah, absolutely, they have to have it. The thing is, your intake specialists are taking a lot of phone calls every single day, one after another, they have a very difficult job. It’s a challenging job that they have. And it’s very traumatic, they’re taking on the trauma of all those phone calls that they’re receiving on a regular basis. So they need a life raft they need to trust and like almost fall in love with this script, and know that it’s there as a tool to guide them to help that person feel like they’re being held on the phone. And at the same time convert.

Matthew Laurin 6:22

How do you guys monitor prospects? Phone calls that come in?

Chris Mullins 6:27

Yeah, well, here’s, let me let me say this, here’s what I’d like. All the law firms out there to do, I mean, we, we definitely do it for you. But you know, we’re not going to be there every single day. So you’re you’re there every single day. So you need to do this. And we call it RMFD RMFD report, monitor feedback daily. So I mean, it’s most of you are getting your calls recorded, especially because of the marketing. And RMFD is your marketing insurance policy. So when you’re listening to your call recordings, which is the argument the R getting recorded, and F D, monitor the monitoring them, you’re doing F a feedback and D for daily, then you’re protecting your your marketing, insurance investment. And all you have to do is schedule it, just get it scheduled on your calendar, I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy, if you’re not currently doing it any change is difficult with time, get it on your calendar, push through it, make it be a regular thing, if you can’t do it daily, I know, different law firms, different sized law firms have different resources. But if you can’t do it daily, just do it every week. And what’s most important is just begin and get started and do it and be consistent, your team’s not going to like it, they don’t want you to do it. They don’t want to hear their recorded voice. Nobody likes their recorded voice. For the most part, I don’t like my recording voice. And they’re certainly not going to love hearing their calls. And then when they get a critique and feedback, or whatever you want to call it, they’re not going to like that either. So you got to get through that. And you got to support them and help them but just schedule it. Let’s just say once a week, you pick recorded calls for your intake team, you as the leader. So let’s just say you’re the intake director or intake manager or intake leader, Team Leader, whatever title it is, listen to some phone calls for each team member. And before you let them listen with you write down your notes, and I want you to cover what’s working, because there’s always something working. So what’s working? What are the opportunities? And how can we fix it. So this you listen to the call as the leader, you write that down, then you have your one on one or your group session, however, you have to organize it with your intake team member or complete team however it happens. And you let that that team member of the call that you have, first let them review, review and critique it, don’t you do it? Let them do it first so that you can get an idea of their instincts of how they feel about the call. So you play the call and they cover those same three areas. What worked? What were the opportunities, and how would they fix it and then you as the leader or trainer or whatever your title is, you give them your feedback, you’ve already listened to it. And then together as a team, you come up with a solution. So RMFD is critical. And you know, at the end of the day, the only reason to not do it is if you chose all of a sudden not to do marketing and we know that you’re not going to do that. So if you’re going to spend time, money, energy and effort on marketing, you have got to Inspect what you expect, listen to the calls, critique the calls and share it with your team and help them get comfortable with it.

Matthew Laurin 10:09

I’m a firm believer in positivity for anything. And I like how you call those opportunities and not what’s not working.

Chris Mullins 10:18

Right? Yeah, absolutely. But the other thing, if I can just say real quick, Matthew that you can do, and this will help. The leader of I’m saying leader, because you know, all law firms call people, different titles and everything. So the leader in that department, it’s, it’s a lot of work, in addition to everything else they’re doing to do record, monitor feedback daily, or weekly. So what you can do to help yourself, which will also help your intake team is in addition to what I just said, require them to do self critiquing. So once a week, they have to listen to X amount of their phone calls. And they have to cover those three areas, and they have to send it to you in an email. So they’re doing some self critiquing. And then you’re doing the live coaching and training self critiquing does not replace what I first explained to you. That’s critical, but the self critiquing, it’s like, what you focus on expands, what gets measured gets done. So the more monitoring we do, the more comfortable they get, the more they get used to it, and the better they get no matter what.

Matthew Laurin 11:33

Chris, I’m curious about onboarding intake specialists. And you touched on that for a minute there about training, how do you train on intake specialists? Well, as you

Chris Mullins 11:44

do all the legal training, you have an understanding of your law firm and all of that, which really should be first. This kind of like the book learning of, of a law firm, and but making sure that they really understand don’t just throw them in a room and say, read this. But after you get that part done, it’s the part that I want to guide you on is them with phone calls. And you know, the first thing that you can do is you have an intake specialist that’s already sitting at their desk, and you could have the new person, but the trainee sitting next to them, but have them listen to both sides of the conversation. Invest in a splitter is what they call it, and let them listen to both sides of the conversation and then talk about it with the person that they’re sitting with the intake specialists they’re saying with and then let them get on the phone. And and you can you can tell the prospect that, you know, Mary’s on the phone with me, and she’s in training, people are used to hearing that in businesses, it’s okay to say that, and I might interrupt her and answer a couple of questions, but get get her on the phone or him on the phone as soon as you possibly can. So listening to both sides of conversations, and then they get on the phone call. And then also let them listen to phone calls and critique them covering those three areas to see if they really understanding it. But really, for me, the main thing is getting them on the phone quickly. Don’t just throw them don’t just say like, here’s your desk, go ahead, and let’s just see how you do, you got to coach them, and the team leader should do it. The intake manager should do it, you can have different team members that are really good at what they’re doing, do it so they get a flavor for everybody. But don’t put them on the phone training somebody that’s having problems and challenges because they’re going to pick up those habits of those behaviors. So just put the time into it and schedule it on the calendar. And you know, the first the first 90 days should be aggressive training, not you know, they get one or two weeks of training and then that’s it, they should be considered in training for at least the first 90 days.

Matthew Laurin 14:01

What is your typical response time on phone contacts?

Chris Mullins 14:06

So you’re talking about leads, right?

Matthew Laurin 14:09


Chris Mullins 14:10

Okay. So above and beyond the inbound calls, that everybody’s getting any of the money that you’re spending on leads, whether it’s text leads, or chats or anything like that at all, or email, it’s it’s immediate, you’ve got to have somebody focusing on that, that lead raised their hand on the spot for hell. So you’re like, you got to get to them right away. I mean, as fast as you possibly can, because they’re gonna call your competition. They’re gonna do the due diligence. They’re consumers like you and I. So they aren’t going to call your competition no matter what. You want to be the first one there. So it doesn’t make any sense like we talked about earlier to build in systems and spend money to get all these leads to come in but you forgot to cover well, who’s going to handle these leads, who’s going to communicate with them? Do we have a script for them. So put that plan in place, really, your intake team is part of your marketing team. And we’re all sales people. And that’s the kind of sales talk you should have in your law firm, and really consider intake part of marketing. So all those leaves, and when you’re checking off the boxes with I’m going to do this marketing campaign, we’re going to get this number of leads all the different resources that you’re using and spending your money and intake on it. Okay, who in intake is gonna be our specialists on chasing those leads? So the answer is immediate, but put a system in place.

Matthew Laurin 15:45

How do you approach those leads that come in after hours? Obviously, a lot of law firms can’t have somebody on the phone 24/7, they can’t have somebody monitoring chat 24/7, unless they have a service doing it. Yeah. What about those ones that come in after hours? How do you approach those? Yeah,

Chris Mullins 16:02

I mean, 24/7, I mean, you’re you’re absolutely right, they’re not going to have a lawyers and intake specialists at all hours waiting for the leads to come in, you know, at one in the morning, or whatever it is. So in all honesty, what you need, you can have your own internal call center that you’ve designed, that’s yours, and it’s at your law firm. And you could have it be 24/7, some law firms do that. But there’s nothing wrong with outsourcing those calls to a call center that knows how to do it, they understand law firms, they know how to do it, you’ve got to like, test them out, maybe, maybe pick two and do them both at the same time to see who does a better job. But one of the things that you really need to do, don’t just pick a call center, because your buddy said, Hey, I’m using so and so that doesn’t mean anything, you have to inspect what you expect. So ask them ask ask the call center, if you can listen to some of the phone calls that they’ve been taking. I asked him if you could have references of people that they work with, that they’ve been working with for a really long time that you can call. And the other thing that you need to do that most people don’t do still today, they have us do it for them, but you really need to do it yourself is build a relationship with that call center. You can’t just check off the box and say, okay, Chris, we got a call center for after hours and make sure they’re Spanish speaking and everything and boom, done. No, it’s not, it’s not the case, they are your staff. Your team, they’re your staff. They’re touching your money, and you’re trusting them. And they’re not even in your building, you don’t even know. I mean, they might be you might be on the east coast. And they must, they might be on the west coast. So build a relationship with a top leader at that call center, and have a scheduled time that you meet with them on a regular basis. And listen to the phone recordings that they’re handling after hours, inspect with your expect and tell them what you want them to improve on. If they’re doing a great job. Tell them that too. Because they don’t hear that a lot. You know, so tell them that you’re doing a great job, you want them to fight for you and handle your leads. But that’s there’s nothing wrong with it. What’s wrong is when you don’t build a relationship with them. And you don’t listen to the call recordings and you don’t inspect the process.

Matthew Laurin 18:41

Do you have any strategies for law firms who are just getting started? And maybe they have a secretary or maybe a dedicated intake specialist who has not been recorded up before never been scrutinized before? strategies to make that a positive experience? Because no one likes to be recorded, and then go back and listen to the recording. Like he had mentioned earlier. Any strategies for making that a positive experience that you can offer? Yeah, I

Chris Mullins 19:09

mean, there’s a couple of things.

The process that I mentioned earlier about how to critique the call or review the call, you know, what’s working, what are the opportunities, and then how can you fix it? How can I fix it? How

Chris Mullins 19:28

can we work together to do it, that would still be the same outline, if you will, but what’s really important is that you’re honest with them. So you don’t just do a sneak attack. You let them know that the calls are being recorded, and why and some good languages, you know, so Mary or John, we record iPhone calls for marketing purposes where we’re spending a lot of money on marketing and we Want to make sure that the calls are going, you know, really well, we also, we also want to enhance what you’re already doing right? So you come from a positive, because this is forever, whatever I’m telling you, this is forever, you know, this is not like, let’s just do this for a month, and see if people get it good. People get good at everything. And they fall off the tracks, and they go back to old bad habits and behaviors. This is forever. So you want Mary and John to embrace it, to come to it come from a positive place and tell them the language that I just said.

Chris Mullins 20:38

Talk to them about how uncomfortable you are as a person listening to your recorded voice, listening to your own and critiquing your own phone calls, and let them hear some of your phone calls so that they realize you’re in the same situation. And talk tell them right up front. I know like, whenever we do a training class, we’d say the same thing to all of our clients every single month, I know that none of you like listening to your recorded voice, I get it. I know that none of you like being reviewed and critiqued no matter what I get it, we do need to do this to enhance what you’re already doing. Right. And this is really the best way to learn, in addition to that would be role playing. And we’re all here together to help each other. Nobody is allowed to critique anybody, and you know, throw them under the bus or be nasty at all. So you want to make sure that when you are giving feedback, after you let Mary and John know why you’re doing it, and how often you’re going to do it and let them listen to some calls first, and then get through a little bit of hearing their own voice, you want to just be kind. At the end of the day, people will learn when you’re kind, you can tell someone you can eat. You can even say to someone we talked about this before. And maybe maybe I didn’t give you the right information or the right way to do it. So let’s review it instead of just being nasty about it. Just be just be kind, and find out how you can help them and the kinder you are and you let them critique you. Also, it’ll go smoother, but I have to tell you it, it’s just, it’s not easy for people, it’s not easy for them at all, I

Chris Mullins 22:25

can tell you something really quick. I am a runner. And I went to a running camp one weekend. And I did not know this was going to happen. They the instructor for the week, she had her iPad, and she filmed everybody running.

Chris Mullins 22:52

And I was mortified. First off,

I saw myself, she brought everybody into the retreat cabin. And then she had this big screen and she had everybody out there.

Chris Mullins 23:12

Everybody is critiquing me.

Matthew Laurin 23:15

sneak attack.

Chris Mullins 23:18

I was a mess. And I’ll tell you the truth because I want you to understand that this is how your staff feels. And it’s also how you feel too. You feel this way too.

Chris Mullins 23:30

your staff is horrified. And some people are going to cry. Sorry. They are and you’ve got to be ready to take care of them and help them

Chris Mullins 23:48

come home early. Because we’re going to get filmed tomorrow

Chris Mullins 23:56

to show how our improvements went so I’m telling you

love care and concern. Okay, because your intake team, if you don’t have an intake team,

Matthew Laurin 24:07

you don’t have a law firm. That’s a great story. And I have one last question about marketing and the intake teams. So these a lot of law firms will have a marketing company or digital advertising company or what have you. How can those vendors who may not be part of the internal team as a law firm help support the intake process? What can attorneys reach out to them for to help support the intake process?

Chris Mullins 24:40

So if when I answer you, Matthew, if if I’m not answering you the way you want, just tell me so you’re asking how can the marketing vendors help support the intake process?

Matthew Laurin 24:52

Yeah, okay. So

Chris Mullins 24:57

a lot of money Kidding, folks out there businesses from law firms, they have access to the phone calls. They record them, you know, they, they can listen to them. And, you know, make use of that service. So, talk to the marketing company, build a strong relationship with them. Again, don’t just check the box, build a strong relationship with them, and tell them that you want them to listen to them and give you feedback. You’re asking for it and have a regular session with them, not just about the marketing campaign, but about the phone calls that you you would like to have a heads up, you know, and it doesn’t take them have to be experts at critiquing calls to tell you and listen to a few calls, and they didn’t really sound customer service friendly, or I listened to a few calls, and they were amazing. You gotta hear this. So that’s what I would suggest that you do.

Matthew Laurin 25:58

Great advice, ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been listening to Chris Mullins, the phone sales doctor, Chris, where can people go to get more information about you?

Chris Mullins 26:08

They can email me directly at phone success doctor So just email me directly. And anybody that’s watching this, all you have to do is email me and mentioned Matthew, and that you saw this podcast, and you will get one free critique of one of your prospect phone calls so you can send us the recording, and I will personally listen to it and I’ll talk to you on the phone, no strings attached.

Chris Mullins 26:50

And I’ll tell you what worked. And I’ll tell you what the opportunities are

Matthew Laurin 26:53

extremely generous. Thank you so much for taking the time to be on the show today. Welcome.

Chris Mullins 26:58

Thank you.

Outro 27:03

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.

Why A Written Partnership Agreement is So Important to Your Practice

April 7, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Toni Y. Long

Toni Y. Long is the Managing Partner and Founder of The Long Law Group, PC. She specializes in corporate and entertainment transactional work with a focus on corporate governance, maintenance and formation, and asset/stock purchases and sales. Toni works with a spectrum of clients, ranging from sole proprietors and emerging businesses, to nonprofits and mid-market companies.

Before founding The Long Law Group, PC, Toni worked as a corporate attorney, was the Director of Business and Legal Affairs for an international film distribution company, and served as a litigation associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Zevnik Horton. Toni has been recognized as a “Top Attorney” for Corporate Law by Pasadena Magazine and a Southern California “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers in Los Angeles Magazine.

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

  • Toni Y. Long talks about The Long Law Group’s practice.
  • What is a partnership agreement, and why should your business have one?
  • Toni shares what can happen when you don’t create a partnership agreement.
  • Agreements for minority owners and majority owners.
  • What should you always have in a partnership agreement?
  • Toni’s advice for attorneys who are thinking of starting a law firm together.

In this episode…

If you’re thinking about starting a business with someone else, there are certain things you need to consider. According to Toni Y. Long, one of the most important aspects of a partnership is your agreement. So, what exactly goes into a partnership agreement—and why is it so important?

With 20 years of experience in the business of law, Toni has witnessed plenty of companies lose time and money over the absence of a partnership agreement. Toni advises that every company should have an agreement—even if you think you don’t need it. A partnership agreement is advanced planning for you and your business, and it will help you efficiently work through obstacles and disagreements when they arise.

In this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast, Matthew Laurin talks with Toni Y. Long, Managing Partner and Founder of The Long Law Group, PC, about the importance of partnership agreements. Toni shares what exactly goes into partnership agreements, how they can help your business, and what you should look for in a partner. Stay tuned.

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

Intro 0:04

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 0:22

hello everyone I’m Matthew Laurin, president of Esq.Marketing and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I share successful stories to help let me start that over hello everyone i’m Matthew Laurin president of Esq.Marketing and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where we share successful stories to help build your practice today we’re joined by Toni Long. Toni is the managing partner and founder of The Long Law Group which specializes in corporate and entertainment transactional work since founding the firm Toni has collaborated with other attorneys and counselled clients on complex m&a and financing transactions totaling more than $400 million Toni welcome to the show um I know that was sort of a super quick intro and I know there’s a lot more to what you do and I was hoping maybe that you could you could share a little bit more with us you know straight from you as opposed to me reading it

Toni Y. Long 1:13

yeah no worries no worries so that’s what you said is is is absolutely correct i’m the managing partner and founder of The Long Law Group my specialty is corporate and entertainment transactional work but our firm is has grown over the years and we also have a labour and employment practice as well as a civil litigation practice basically we are or we see ourselves as kind of a one stop shop for business owners and addressing any issues that come up through the lifecycle of a business so that includes especially here in california if you own a business you’re always going to have labour and employment issues so we try and advise our clients on those and sometimes litigation is one of those things that happens you can’t really control it so we’re there to represent our clients should their interests are protected there as well

Matthew Laurin 2:07

so it’s really interesting I know when our director of marketing James first told me that you were in entertainment law is it I was like ooh that sounds

Matthew Laurin 2:15

that sounds really interesting like I just picture you working with like entertainers and

Toni Y. Long 2:21

that’s what people always think I think people think entertainment is a lot sexier than it actually is in practice there’s a lot of there’s very little of that that’s probably a very small percentage of anyone’s entertainment practice generally speaking and then there’s a whole bunch of contracts labour and employment issues and other areas of the law that get implicated in entertainment because there’s really no entertainment law per se it’s just an umbrella term that encompasses all manner of other practice areas that come together and impacts this one industry

Matthew Laurin 2:57

still no I don’t have to feel like such a moron when I talk to people about it alright so let’s jump right in here today’s topic is about partnership agreements why you need them and what should absolutely be included in any partnership agreement and for myself working with attorneys I guess this is just always something I thought attorneys just knew about it no matter what the practice area was up but what is a partnership agreement

Toni Y. Long 3:23

basically a partnership agreement is just a legal agreement between owners of a law firm or any business really that will explicitly detail their relationship it says for what I call the rules of engagement for running the business for bringing on new partners for dividing profits and losses for handling disagreements you know believe it or not sometimes lawyers disagree for disposing of an interest in that partnership if a partner dies is disabled gets a divorce or retires and so those are really the major things that any partnership agreement should address and that’s it in in a nutshell so we’re done goodbye

Matthew Laurin 4:16

so why would business owners get a partnership agreement like what are some of the main reasons to do that well

Toni Y. Long 4:27

ideally you want an agreement that is tailor made to your partnership that’s tailor made to the way you’re going to run your business not every business is run the same way not everybody has the same you know experience responsibilities and what have you and so you want something in writing that memorializes the agreement that you and your partners have agreed to as to how the law firm is going to be run so if you don’t have something in writing The state has a plan for you. They have default rules. And oftentimes you think about default rules. Default rules are generally in place, kind of as a catch all in, in written in very general terms, because they can’t identify every particular scenario. So they tend to be very basic and not really tailored to what is happening in the real world. So you want to have something in writing in the event that you want to deviate from those default rules. And almost in every instance, people do want to deviate once they realise what the default rules are. So that’s one reason to have a partnership agreement. You want to have some control over who owns your company, you want to agree on certain issues in advance before they become disputes, you know, who’s going to make what decisions? Who’s going to run this committee or that committee in the in the partnership or in the law firm? That sort of thing? What happens if you have a disruptive partner or non performing partner? How do you remove them from the company, you want to address that, and you don’t want it to be a process that’s so long and drawn out that it could kill your law firm? It could, you know, take your business. So those are some of the key reasons I would say you would have that. And also, law firms are long term investments for people, you know, in this day and age, it’s certainly not that expensive to start a law firm like it was, you know, 30 or 40 years ago. And we’ve certainly learned in the past year, that you can run many businesses from home, rather seamlessly, or at least with very few bumps in law firms are the same in that regard. But you will want something that protects your investment in that business. Again, going back to certain actions that could imperil the business. That’s money that gets lost if that were to happen if that business were to tank because you didn’t plan in advance. So the partnership agreement is your advanced planning on in taking care of issues in the event that things don’t go as planned, and in life generally does not go as planned.

Matthew Laurin 7:30

That’s for sure. The first thing you said caught caught my attention. I didn’t know there was default rules that dictate what happens if there’s a disagreement? What are some of those?

Toni Y. Long 7:44

You know, what I don’t know if I know the default rules off the top of my head, but they are certainly codified in our in our statutes that govern professional corporations. So if you don’t have rules for, you know, bringing in someone or getting rid of a partner, you may be stuck with whatever the default rules are, and they may not move as quickly or as efficiently as you as you want. I’ll be honest, I don’t know all of the default rules, mainly, because with my clients, we tend to vary those rules almost in every instance. Because people want something that’s tailor made for them. But yeah,

Matthew Laurin 8:26

today those vary by state or is there?

Toni Y. Long 8:29

Yes, yes, they will vary by state. So if you’re in California, we have one set of rules, if you’re an Illinois, there’s another set Texas another set. And that’s not to say that they are all different in every state, you know, some states, you know, will follow certain kind of model rules and and Institute those, but there will be variances per state. So I know there are certain things in California that are that may very much be very California specific. So if I were to be practising in Texas, I’d have to bone up on the Texas rules to ensure that number one, the if I draft a partnership agreement, it’s it’s kind of forming to those rules. And also what I’m doing in practice conforms to those rules.

Matthew Laurin 9:14

Obviously, without naming any names of clients or anything like that, do you have any horror stories of someone who didn’t have something in place and had to follow the default rules? And

Toni Y. Long 9:25

oh, wasn’t? Yeah, um, and not a necessarily a law firm context? Well, we certainly have this with some of our corporate clients. I mean, we’ve had clients who had no agreement at all, and needed to get rid of a partner and that became a costly and time consuming nightmare. We’ve had situations where clients have had an agreement, but it wasn’t tailored for them. It was, you know, essentially something they pulled, you know, from the Google School of of law from the Google Law Firm. And it did not work out for them because it really did not take into consideration how they run their business. And that particular instance, one of the biggest issues was this person had a fairly sizable interest in the, but they hadn’t made their capital contribution. And so they, they were enjoying kind of the fruits of everyone else’s labour in their work, and they weren’t doing any work, and they had made their capital contribution. But one could argue that their interests had vested. Now obviously, if if this had gone the litigation, we could have spent a great deal of money and time arguing that it hadn’t. But if they’d had a written agreement by someone who understands, okay, one of the first things you want to put in is if you don’t make your capital contribution, you don’t have an interest until we, we get that from you. And so your interest has invested. So it’s easier to get rid of you at that point. That was a pretty expensive lesson for that client to learn. Now, they have like a 20, almost 30 page agreement that’s proper for a company that has like seven partners in

Matthew Laurin 11:13

the that’s, that’s an interesting story. And I can totally see it not just in in, in law firms, but in all businesses, why it’s so it’s so important to have an agreement like that, um, I noticed some of the areas for a partner agreement talk about minority owners and majority owners, are there benefits that differ between those for those two different types of groups of owner ownership against the two different types of owners in the in the business?

Toni Y. Long 11:44

Well, yeah, I mean, um, you can imagine a situation where you have, you know, two or three partners, and they own the vast majority, and you have one person who maybe only owns like five or 10%. And, and then kind of railroading that person, if they’re not careful, if if some of the default rules weren’t in place to protect my minority owners. And so there are certainly rules in place that will, you know, you cannot divest some of their interests, just, you know, for, I don’t want to use the word that I’m thinking for giggles will say, there are, there are rules, you have to follow some of the rules that some of the provisions, we’ve put in agreements to kind of vary, and ensure that not those groups don’t kind of harm each other. For example, we do all drag along and tag along rights when it comes time to dispose of an interest in a company. So basically, what that means is, if I am for tagalong, if I’m a minority owner, and you decide to sell your interest in the law firm, or in the company, and I don’t, I may not necessarily want to be in business with that person or that company you sell it to. So I will include it in a provision that allows that minority owner to tag along and get the same rights that you’re getting, when you sell your interests, meaning if you buy their share, if they buy your shares, they have to buy mine at the same, you know, share price, for example, they can nickel and dime me and they can undercut me. And then on the flip side, if I’m a minority owner, or majority owner, and I want to sell my interest in the company, I don’t want to be prevented from doing that. Because, you know, there’s a minority owner who’s like, Nope, I’m not consenting. So then we’ll put it what we call drag along rights, which means I’m gonna drag you along with me. And we’re gonna sell the interest in the company so that, you know, the intent is and frustrated by someone who may be holding the deal up for any number of reasons. And you can imagine what some of those could be. Yeah,

Matthew Laurin 13:52

that’s really cool that things like that exist both for minority owners and majority owners, I can envision, you know, being a minority owner and maybe feeling like you have less power. And then if someone sells, you know, at least you have some options, if you put it in writing beforehand. Is there anything?

Toni Y. Long 14:11

Yeah, and then, I’m sorry. Continue, I was gonna say also, you know, in terms of decision making, if you’re a minority owner, you really want to participate in the drafting of these agreements, because you don’t want to give the person or persons who have the majority, too much power. Because that could come back and bite you. You know, you don’t want there’s certain things that you may say, you know, what, I think we should have unanimity on those decisions. Like if we are encumbering the assets of the company, for a certain, you know, you know, for a loan or what have you or borrowing money. How much we may want to put a limit on that so that, you know, it doesn’t imperil the company if we’re unable to i’ll make those comments or what have you so there’s certain things that as a minority owner you have to think about and certain situations where you may want to step up and say some some of these decisions should be unanimous i trust my majority owners up until a point but some things should be should require unanimity have you ever had

Matthew Laurin 15:20

a case where majority owners made some type of agreement without the minority owner knowing

Toni Y. Long 15:27

I mean you know they’re all men are bad actors I mean case law you know wouldn’t be what it is that didn’t happen so unfortunately yeah there are people who you know even with an agreement in place will do bad things will you know commit certain actions without the consent or knowledge of their business partners yeah we’ve had that and that tends to lead to litigation depending on what’s at stake and what that decision was you know changing you know copier companies that’s one thing but you know taking assets of the company and and lending them to do a third party that’s that’s something else you know so

Matthew Laurin 16:14

i’m what absolutely has to be in a partnership agreement is there something that you always recommend to clients that they do sort of across the board you always see certain things that have to be in there

Toni Y. Long 16:28

yeah I mean there are any number of provisions that we will certainly insist on but where I would probably start is you know we know that at some point there will be some triggering event where an interest enough in a company will need to be sold either you know through death disability divorce or retirement and so in those instances we want to plan ahead and deal with the what we call the buy sell portion of that shareholder agreement or have just a buy sell agreement and so that that is probably just the meat of your agreement if you have a law firm or any business really with your partners is what happens if someone needs to sell their interest in the company or that interest needs to be disposed of how do we handle that how do we value the interest how do we what’s what triggers the sale who has to purchase the interest and then how does that whole mechanism work what’s the timing of it just things like that because as you can imagine it can be a very long and drawn out process in terms of if especially in a situation where someone has passed away there there can be some urgency in terms of getting that interest from the estate back into the company or back into the hands of the other partners

Matthew Laurin 18:03

um if there is maybe a couple of attorneys thinking of starting a law firm together maybe they both been in private practice for a little bit and they’re thinking about joining forces what are some of the first steps they should should go through if they’re thinking about doing that

Toni Y. Long 18:17

I would tell them to sit down and and have a very meaningful honest conversation about what their expectations are why they want to join forces how they work if you worked with someone you get a pretty good idea of of you know the person’s personality it’s really important that you pick a business partner and then as careful away maybe even more careful that you pick your spouse the wrong choice can be very expensive and emotionally and psychologically draining I caution my clients on looking for certain kinds of signs in terms of the person you probably shouldn’t go into business with but certain personality types you should avoid at all costs the bully in the narcissist are at the top of my list and do not ever think is same thing in a personal relationship that you’re going to change a grown person they are who they are and you should not look to enter a relationship with you’re in your mind that i’m going to change you like you’re trying to run a business here you don’t have time to do that and you know be the therapist for your business and you know change them have a meeting of the minds at the very beginning and and talk about your expectations and be realistic i’m the partner who works with me when he came into my firm it was understood that he really he worked at a larger firm he was tired of that grind and he really wanted to be able to spend more time with his family he truly wanted what they call a lifestyle firm You hear that thrown around all the time a real lifestyle for? Well, technically every firm is a lifestyle firm, you know, just no matter what kind of lifestyle it is, and he wanted to join a firm where he could, you know, here’s a idea, spend time with his children and pick them up from school and take them to school and still be a practitioner. And that was fine with me. I understood his work ethic, I understood how he approached handling clients, and why it was important for him to be an attorney. And those were things that we were in agreement on, we have our way of dealing with clients. And our reason for even being attorneys are very similar. We’re not very bottom line people. And what I mean by that is, it’s not the most important thing for us is not how much money we’re going to make from the client. It really is, did we make an impact? were we able to assist that client on the issue that they brought to us? Or are we able to protect them in their business, that sort of thing? So those are the types of conversations I think you should have there. They’re not just your standard, kind of technical legal conversations, but they really have to get into the personality of the people who are core coming together, and can they work together and collaborate? And then what happens when you disagree? My partner and I have had disagreements, and we’ve had to work through that. And sometimes that means eating some crow when you realise you were wrong, and admitting it because you’re, you’re an adult, and apologising. And not saying I told you so when you’re right.

Matthew Laurin 21:40

There, we had a great business and life advice from Toni Long. Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been listening to Toni Long, the managing partner and founder of The Long Law Group, Toni, where can people go to learn more about your firm?

Toni Y. Long 21:53

I can go to our website, we are at We’re on Avvo We’re on Super Lawyers, so they can just pop the name into Google and generally find us.

Matthew Laurin 22:09

There you go. Thanks a whole lot for being on the show, Toni. I really appreciate it.

Toni Y. Long 22:12

Yeah, anytime. Thank you for the great questions. This is a lot of fun.

Outro 22:20

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.

How to Successfully Market to Your Local Hispanic Community

March 31, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Paul Samakow
Paul Samakow is the Founder of The Law Offices of Paul A. Samakow, P.C. Paul has been a practicing plaintiff’s personal injury lawyer since 1980, helping over 20,000 clients in Virginia and Maryland. He is a member of numerous plaintiff organizations that focus on educating and helping victims.

During his career of over 40 years, Paul has become a well-known attorney in his local Hispanic community, creating numerous safety campaigns and contributing to multiple causes and events. Paul is also a frequent lecturer to community, civic, school, and professional groups.

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

  • Why Paul Samakow doubled down on serving the Hispanic community through his personal injury law practice
  • How to break the potential language barrier when you want to work with people from the Hispanic community
  • What typical messaging targeting people from the Hispanic community should look like
  • Things to avoid when marketing to the Hispanic community
  • The best advertising medium for targeting Hispanic people and how to track results
  • How to get the best out of your targeted marketing

In this episode…

If you’re looking to market to and serve your local Hispanic community successfully, it’s best to learn how from someone who has been doing it for over 40 years: Paul Samakow. But there’s a caveat.

You can’t expect that you’re going to start building up a large, consistent caseload after three, four, or five months. Paul says it’s a commitment of at least a couple of years that includes spending your budget on the suitable advertising medium, backend personnel, follow-up system, and a lot more. Want all the details?

Learn about how to successfully build up your Hispanic client base on this episode of Matthew Laurin’s Esq.Marketing Podcast featuring Paul Samakow, Founder of The Law Offices of Paul A. Samakow, P.C. They discuss viable markets, overcoming language roadblocks, what type of advertising works (and why), 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

Intro 0:04

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 0:22

Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature feature successful and solo SMB law firms from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing, we help attorneys get more clients in cases using search marketing. And speaking of successful attorneys, today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Paul Samakow. Paul has been practicing plaintiff’s personal injury law since 1980, during which time he has helped over 20,000 clients in Virginia and Maryland. During his 40 plus year career, Paul has become a very well known attorney in the local Hispanic community, having created numerous safety campaigns and contributing to numerous causes and events. Paul, welcome to the show.

Paul Samakow 1:02

I can’t say thank you enough for having me. Pleasure.

Matthew Laurin 1:06

So let’s jump right in here. Um, why the Hispanic market? Is there opportunities there that that you saw or, or demographics you wanted to help?

Paul Samakow 1:17

Well, there were, you know, I mean, I’m a sole practice attorney always have been, well, the last couple of years, I now have an associate. But when I began my practice of law in 1980, there were four or five law firms as they’re now probably 15, or 20. advertising on TV than networks and cable stations. And the amount of money they were spending back in 1980, was obscene. And so you know, as a guy hanging out a shingle, if you say, I started my own practice, I didn’t go to work for anybody else. I had to figure out, you know, how to get some work. And I speak Spanish well enough to be, you know, understood, and enough to understand most of the time when people are talking to me, but I’m not, I would never tell somebody, I’m fluent. So I started looking into the area’s Hispanic community, which is very large in DC area. It is described as the eighth largest Hispanic market in the country, a lot of people. And there was nobody advertising that if you get hurt, call me, I’ll help you. And I started with a couple of very small newspaper ads in a couple of different local newspapers, neither of which even exists now. But the phones started ringing off the hook. And I thought, Wow, so I went onto the radio. And I had to hire three people almost immediately, just to answer the phone. And then an epiphany. Wait a minute, what about Spanish TV. And so the number of offices and the number of employees that I’ve had, since that auspicious beginning, has varied, but at one time, I had as many as nine offices, two of them were headquarters, and seven were satellite offices. And I’ve had as many as 21 employees. Now, with COVID, I’ve scaled down tremendously, because you don’t need to be where they are, everybody in their grandmother, now has access to a mobile phone, or you can sign them up with DocuSign, or any number of other, you know, signature software. situations, you know, whatever you call those things, signature software, signature gathering software, I guess, you know, we can send them a contract and get on the phone and explain it, they sign it and push the button and send it back. And you don’t have to be in front of them. I mean, everybody likes the concept of being remote. They don’t have to get in a car and find the office in wonder if there’s parking. And so I’ve scaled down tremendously. And I’m more efficient now. And but that’s the answer. I mean, I started at the beginning, and I was the only one and for years, and now there’s competition. And that’s okay. Because I truly believe that, you know, it’s a world of abundance. It’s not a world of scarcity, you know, there’s more potato chips in the grocery store if you want them.

Matthew Laurin 4:21

That’s a good attitude to have. And so I there must have been something you liked about working with that community. Did you? Did you stay exclusively with the Hispanic market? Or? Oh,

Paul Samakow 4:31

well, I mean, I you know, the percentage of my case intakes varied anywhere from 60 to 70% of individuals who are Hispanic, some speak English a little bit, some not at all. But you know, I mean, the Washington DC area really is a melting pot of the world. And I’ve had clients from China, from Russia, from Iran, from Japan, from Vietnam from you know, France from Spain. I’ve got two clients right now in Israel. And you know, getting translation services has always been one of the big problems, gee, would you like to have that problem? But, I mean, it’s, uh, you know, and then I have what I’ll call your native born, learn how to speak English from the day they were born. Individuals that you would call Americans. But I don’t like to say an American is solely someone who speaks English because there’s plenty of people from around the world who are now Americans and I think it’s politically incorrect to just put an umbrella over only people that look like me and say, there those are the only Americans but the Hispanic community is very loyal. If you know if an American comes in, okay, what happened here? I’m sorry, I lost you. Oh,

Matthew Laurin 5:54

I still got you

Paul Samakow 5:56

can’t see. Take your time. There we go. Okay. Something happened. My screensaver came on. No worries. You know, if an American comes in, you know, it might be one or the other of a married couple, the person who got hurt, maybe they’ll bring their spouse in Hispanic individual is injured, they come in with their mother, their father, the aunt, the uncle, two kids, and sometimes the pastor. So it’s a very it’s a very community oriented group of people that, you know, support each other. And what I found is that I get so many referrals from people who are coming in for moral support, because you know, we hug and we kiss and you know, in Spanish, there’s a term it’s that the term is a Holic, it’s una brosseau. So before COVID, you go over and literally give everybody alguna Rasul amigo. And, you know, I mean, that’s your, you’re seen as being real, because hopefully, you are real. And so I have an extraordinary network of people who are my clients who have been my clients and keep referring their friends to me. So it’s, it’s very rewarding.

Matthew Laurin 7:08

That’s extremely heartwarming. Um, the language aspect of it is interesting. So when you when you first decided to work with this community, or this this demographic, did you have to learn how to speak Spanish then or, or things that you already knew how to speak it, but was that ever a bear?

Paul Samakow 7:27

I’m not fluent. But I quickly realized that I had to have lots of people who were so you know, over the years, I’ve had an array of people from virtually every South American and Central American company in my employ, Guatemala, Salvador, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, you name it, you know, Puerto Rico, Puerto Ricans don’t agree that they’re Hispanic sometimes, which is funny. But yeah, I mean, so I have everybody that’s bilingual, that speak that everybody that works for me asked to be bilingual. And we have all of our documents in Spanish so they can read them.

Matthew Laurin 8:05

So you were able to achieve that with with personnel not so much like mastering it yourself. Right?

Paul Samakow 8:10

Correct. I mean, I will go in if the individual doesn’t speak English, I will go in with somebody who, you know, can translate and you know, 75% of the meeting, we don’t need them. But just in case I have somebody sitting there.

Matthew Laurin 8:25

That’s, that’s great. Because I think if you were I mean, if you were starting a law firm, or if you’re interested in working with members of the Spanish community, or the Hispanic community, on the it might be a roadblock for a lot of attorneys who maybe don’t speak any Spanish.

Paul Samakow 8:41

Well, one of the things that, you know, you know about me, because you saw my resume in advance, I have a second business. And that is I’m a consultant to attorneys all over the country, showing them how to build up their Hispanic client base in their market. And so, you know, one of the first things they asked me is, do you need to speak Spanish? And my answer is absolutely not. But you need to have at least two employees who do. Why do I need two employees? Because I’ll tell you why. Fred, because if Maria is sick, you still need one to answer the phone.

Matthew Laurin 9:15

Yes, that’s a good point.

Paul Samakow 9:17

Yeah. So um,

Matthew Laurin 9:19

you know, your consulting business, can you can you speak a little bit more about that, as

Paul Samakow 9:23

well? Yeah, I mean, what happened? I guess about almost a decade ago, just a little shy of about 10 years ago, I developed the safety program. And I’ll try and be brief here because I know time is limited, but the safety program is basically don’t text and drive. And in Spanish, there is a word that is slang. Everybody knows it. No matter what country you’re from, there’s different dialects of Spanish all over the world. But everybody knows the word test the rudo, a test a rudo is someone who’s stubborn or hard headed. So the wife I’d say I attest the route, I’ll take out the trash. And it’s the husband she’s talking to because he knows he’s supposed to but he doesn’t want to be stubborn. So we took out the s in the word test the rudo, and I put in the letter x, and then I created a concept and a character which are both trademarked and copyrighted, and the word is Textarudo, and I actually have a book with Textarudo pictures and we take our costumed of employee wearing Textarudo costume to festivals. And we have a little key chains that we give out I probably given out close to three quarters of a million key chains over the years to people at festivals and, and everybody knows him because he’s on TV. And one of the things that on the TV has the Spanish TV has that, you know, daytime American soap operas have they have soap operas at night, and these are the cheesiest, corniest things you’ve ever seen in your life, but they are hysterical. And everybody follows them. It’s like, they have more of a following than the people who watch the housewives or the Kardashians. And so I run commercials in primetime at night with the tails of Textarudo. And it’s like a little soap opera. And they follow his ups and downs and his foibles and his joys. But he’s always trying to get over that he shouldn’t text while driving, and he’s going to get married. But no, she won’t marry him because he’s still texting and driving. And so COVID actually put a Kufa in the story because I was going to actually have a wedding because he’s now going to stop texting. He promised her and they were going to get married. And then they were going to have little Textarudo children that was go to school, and what did you learn today? We’re not to text and drive, you know. So there’s a whole story, that then I have this concept, if you will. And I’ve got eight and a half plus years of television commercials, some of which are so gut wrenching, funny that you can’t sit still without, you know, having to go to the bathroom and pee in your pants. But the message is there. People like what you do, they don’t like what you say, Oh, I’m aggressive, I fight hard, I care. Sure who doesn’t. But when you show people that you care about them when you show them, and that’s what I’m doing with these commercials, I’m spending my money, giving them a message, don’t text and drive, it’s dangerous. Your family loves you, they want you to come home, you know, just put the phone down. I mean, I have all measure of messages that, you know, the last 10 seconds of these 32nd TV commercials are. And you know, if you get hurt, I’m always here to help you. So I’m licensing this to attorneys across the country, and some are doing okay. And a lot of them dropped out because of COVID. You know, they didn’t want to continue spending money if nobody’s on the streets driving, which in my mind is a mistake. You know, when I recognized what was going on, I started to double down on my commercials. So but you know, so I have a whole program. I’ve got an attorney in upstate New York, who’s now going to be calling me next week to let me know if he wants to, you know, have me get involved with him and do consulting and licensed my Textarudo campaign. So it’s a it’s been a fun thing over the last four years or so when I started this and, you know, it’s um, it’s not something that’s particularly extraordinarily lucrative for me, but yeah, I’m making some money. But, you know, moreover, I just liked the idea of introducing into communities don’t text and drive. The big the government in Brazil came this night, excuse me, Bolivia, came this close the licensing Textarudo from me. And then the elections came and the next one didn’t want to hear about it. All right.

Matthew Laurin 13:56

That’s really a brilliant marketing campaign. And I like how you talked about, um, oh, you know, you show you actually care. And I totally agree that, you know, you speak to the pain points of an audience and, and, you know, come out come across as human it’s really powerful.

Paul Samakow 14:14

It is.

Matthew Laurin 14:16

Um, and along those lines for for marketing, what should attorneys avoid? When marketing to the Hispanic community? What’s what are some things that you found?

Paul Samakow 14:28

They should avoid, they should avoid BS. They must be real. You know, how many TV commercials Do you watch with attorneys and they are so boilerplate and they just seem like they’re just talking off in the air and they’re not even looking at the camera. I don’t think there’s a group of people in the world who can smell bs or smell. You know, someone who’s just in it for the ride more than Hispanics you sit down with Then Hispanic and they know instantly whether you’re telling the truth if you have integrity or not, and that has to come through in your TV commercials, that has to come through your radio commercials. You know, it doesn’t make any sense in my mind to run a newspaper ad any longer. So I started, but you know, that was 40 years ago newspapers, nobody reads them anymore. Unless, you know, unless you’re in New York, and you’re looking as if the governor is going to resign, you know, but the, the bottom line is just integrity, it’s real person to person humility. You know, I tell people not to make jokes, unless you’re guaranteed that you’re going to get, you know, an extraordinary reaction, because jokes aren’t funny, particularly from lawyers, unless they really, really, really are funny. So I, you know, I don’t let people try and make jokes if I’m counseling them or consulting with them. But you just come across and say, Hey, you know, this is something that’s important to me, your health, your well being your safety, your family. Come on by, you know, and I don’t I only handle injury cases, but I’m a resource, you got a divorce situation and immigration situation, a landlord tenant situation, a criminal situation, coming to see me, I’m not going to charge you anything. Just sit down, tell me your situation. And let me call my friend, Fred, or George or Sally, you know, and I’ll see if I can get you a good attorney, rather than you figuring out where you’re going to go. These small things add up, and you get loyal people who just will forever come back to you, and they don’t care about the money is different from a lot of other types of people who will I got hit and rear end and I had to go to the doctor for three weeks, I should get $5 million, right? No, I’m sorry, you know, most Hispanics, all they want to do is make sure their bills are paid. And they got medical care, because many of them don’t have health insurance. They don’t even know where to get a doctor. So we we make sure they get good and proper medical care and complete medical care. And they’re better, we help them get the car fixed, we get their medical bills paid, I take a fee, and then I give them some money. I don’t care how much they got, you know, many, many, many of them, they take three quarters of the money I just gave them and they send it back home to mama Sita. I mean, which is a wonderful thing, you know. So you know, it’s again, what’s the advice to an attorney thinking to go into that market? Be yourself, show that you are a real live person and not just into free what you can get out of it?

Matthew Laurin 17:40

Do do that in other ways besides the marketing campaign with the texting drive, so like for example, you mentioned being a resource for them. Do you do that by having helpful content on your website or providing tools for them to access that may not include meeting with you things like that?

Paul Samakow 18:01

The answer is no I don’t publicize it I don’t advertise it. It’s not on the website. But the word of mouth is extraordinary. And there isn’t anybody in the community that doesn’t know that they can call me for anything legal. I mean it’s it’s just it’s a very powerful you know, message to put out one by one by one by one. And like most attorneys after the case closes I send the clients a letter Thank you for letting me be your lawyer I hope that everything was okay and by the way if you ever have any legal problem please feel free to call me so I do. I do what a matter of speaking advertise it, but it’s not like it’s on TV or radio or something.

Matthew Laurin 18:46

Understood. It’s a Where should your advertising budget go to to reach the Hispanic community if you if you’re an attorney wanting to work in this niche, what you what should you be focused on in terms of advertising,

Paul Samakow 19:00

TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, TV, 95% Telemundo, that Telemundo. Una vissi on Univision. And I will get lawyer as well. You know, I have a social media director who’s Hispanic and they say that people, you know, they are on Facebook, they are. But that’s not what the businesses mean, if you’ve got if you got 25 $30,000 a month to spend to develop in Hispanic practice 25 or 30,000 of it shouldn’t be on TV. Now four years from now and you’re getting lots and lots of cases, okay? Now you have more money to spend. Now you’re 35 or 40,000. So spend 37, five on the TV and put 2500 into into, you know social media. Americans do. Respond to social media, and so do Hispanics. But it’s about the term, you know, ROI, return on investment. If I have $5, where can I best spend it? And here’s another generational thing that many won’t know. So here’s a golden nugget. Now, today, Hispanics are assimilated mostly into our culture. They speak English, they have good jobs with American companies. They are not living with mom and dad any longer, and they get into a car accident. And they call up mom and dad and they say, Hey, I got into an accident, I’m going to go to lawyer, Fred. And mom and dad say, No, you’re not. You’re going to lawyer Paul Samakow. And maybe that 25 year old has heard of me, and maybe not, because they don’t watch TV as much as mom and dad. The allegiance to their parents and the respect for their parents is enormous. They are going to go to Paul Samakow when mom and dad say go to Paul Samakow. Don’t get all the business, I get a lot of business. But you know, it the the the deference and the respect to the elders is tremendous. So the plugging on TV has value for the people whose eyeballs are seeing it and their immediate and their extended families. Not too many people know that.

Matthew Laurin 21:29

Yeah, that’s really interesting, the deep knowledge you have of the culture. Have you successfully been able to track that? The the TV spend it all? Or any?

Paul Samakow 21:39

How does? How do you do? How do you do that? Every single person that comes in how did you get my name? And you know, I don’t? I don’t want to sound like I’m kind of you know, some kind of conceited jerk or something. But the response more often than not, is well, everybody knows Paul Samakow. I mean, I don’t know where I got your name, because my friend told me to come to you. Okay, but have you seen me on TV? Yes or no? And check in a little box. You seen me on social media? Because I’m there a little bit, yes or no? Many of them. Tell me how I heard you on the radio. I haven’t been on the radio for over 15 years. You know, but it’s trackable to the extent that I can look at pockets of Hispanic communities around the Washington DC and Baltimore area. Until I got 15 cases from this area. I got 21 cases from that area. Last month, I got 16 cases from this area. So while TV is all broad, you know, it pays to say hey, you know, and for you, and for my friends out there and Falls Church, I’m talking to you put the phone down, you know, when you’re driving, that kind of thing I intersperse here and there and now and again, because I know that falls churches in Hispanic area in large part. If I go to somebody and say, you know, hey, my friends in Fairfax station, I don’t think there are five Hispanics who live in Fairfax station. So I’m not going to plug their community. But, you know, is it 100%? Perfect tracking? No, it’s not. But it’s enough to understand that what I’m doing is working.

Matthew Laurin 23:22

There’s not 100% perfect tracking. And I mean, I think the way you’re doing it right now is perfect. I mean, just asking people how they found out about you. I mean, what it’s right from the right from the source of how they heard about you and I that resonates with me how you said, you know, they heard you on the radio, but you haven’t advertised on the radio. And I’ve had an experience too, in advertising and marketing in my career, where sometimes people just don’t know where they heard about you. Like, yeah, maybe, maybe they they heard it in the background as they’re walking through a room on a TV commercial. And that’s why they thought it was on the radio or something.

Paul Samakow 23:54

Right? Yeah.

Matthew Laurin 23:58

Yeah. Okay. So though, that’s the extent of my questions. Um, is there anything that we didn’t cover that you think attorneys in general should know if they’re, they’re going after the Hispanic market?

Paul Samakow 24:10

Well, you know, again, I mean, it’s a process. Many of the attorneys that I have worked with and consulted with don’t understand the necessity to stick to it and they’ve left my program, even though they were starting to see a an increase in the number of cases, you can’t expect that you’re going to start building up a large, consistent caseload after three or four or five months. This is a commitment of at least a couple of years on TV. So you better have the budget to do TV. You better have the back end personnel to handle the cases. You better have the computer system and the follow up. I mean there there are 50 different things that I bring to the table when I have an attorney and counsel him or her on how to, you know, go into this community. And I’m ridiculously cheap. I mean, I don’t know what an SEO company charges. But, you know, you can get some of those people that charge four or 567 $1,000 a month, I’m less than that. But you know, I get a fee. And, you know, it’s, it’s worth its weight in gold. Because if they stick with it, you know, they’re going to be the number one attorney in their Hispanic communities market. I mean, it’s just, there’s just no question about it.

Matthew Laurin 25:36

It sounds like a bargain. Um, ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been listening to Paul Samakow. Thank you for sharing your advice on how attorneys can break into their local Hispanic market. Where can people go to learn more about you and and your consulting services?

Paul Samakow 25:51

Well, I have a, I have a phone number, they can call me. Imagine that have a lawyer that has a phone. It’s a it’s a local number. The phone number is 703-761-4343. Somebody on my office will answer it. And they say, hey, I’d like to talk to Paul. And boom, they’re talking to me. And they can ask me questions and I can send them materials, I can send them a book that I wrote about how to do this, which you know, wets the whistle, but doesn’t really give you all the information, but it’s a valuable book that I give away for free. It’s a marketing tool for sure. For my consulting business. You know, so, um, you know, just I, I have conversations with attorneys 34567 times before they agree to sign on or not, because I don’t want to have somebody sign on and start spending, you know, $25,000 a month or more, depending upon what market they’re in wasting their money on TV if they’re not fully in 110% committed. I mean, depending upon what market you’re in, you know, I mean, Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Miami, that’s a mountain of money you got to commit every single month and if you don’t, your competition is swallowing you. I mean, you can’t you just can’t compete. You don’t have to be the number one spender but you got to be in the middle of the pack consistently because ultimately my message with Textarudo is going to rise to the top people recognize that and I get people all the time when I walk around the community Well, not so much now but before COVID lawyer Samakow no text a no text a text in a way but they showed me the key chain you know, I went to I don’t want to keep hammering but I went to a restaurant with my wife and friends a couple years back and the guy who was serving the water was Hispanic and he recognized me they all do i mean again I’m not trying to sound conceited but I mean I want to eat you know so many times every single night in their home. So when he came back a second time to fill the water glasses he showed me he had my my my key chain

Matthew Laurin 28:04

Nice Nice. Yeah, I really appreciate you taking the time and being on the show. Um, we I don’t mean to sit sound robotic, but I just try to stick to the questions but everyone man is really cool. I like your marketing campaign. I didn’t even know you were doing all that I didn’t have a ton of crap from James but um that’s that’s pretty cool. I’m gonna search for that now. Excellent and those videos on YouTube.

Paul Samakow 28:29

Oh, they are Yeah, you can just look up Paul Samakow and you can find them. You can also go to the Textarudo website or the Textarudo Facebook page TEXTARUDO textarudo

Matthew Laurin 28:44

extra route my daughter’s and taking Spanish right now in eighth grade and I’m going to tell her that the original word the testarudo, would you say that means again?

Paul Samakow 28:58

It’s a stubborn person, somebody else? Yeah, so Textarudo is a play on that word, because text Ruto knows he shouldn’t text and drive and it keeps doing it.

Conclusion 29:11

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.

Top 5 Tips to Successfully Network in a Pandemic

March 24, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Janet Falk

Janet Falk is a Speaker, Writer, and Consultant at her firm, Falk Communications and Research. She is a communications professional who advises attorneys at small law firms and solo practices on media relations and marketing communication. With her expertise, lawyers are able to attract new clients, remain top-of-mind with prior clients, and help recruit new associates to their firms. She has published articles in The New York Law Journal, The New Jersey Law Journal, and Marketing The Law Firm.

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

  • Who is Janet Falk?
  • Best practices for networking in a pandemic.
  • How to get the best out of a networking group.
  • Missed opportunities on Zoom calls—and how to leverage them
  • Crafting an effective elevator pitch.
  • How to use the chat function on Zoom meetings.
  • What to do in breakout room sessions during a networking event on Zoom?
  • Staying top-of-mind with clients and reconnecting with colleagues.

In this episode…

As attorneys, you often get your best clients from referrals. And where do those referrals come from? They come from your network, but networking in the age of COVID doesn’t seem like a promising venture. There is a way to make your networking efforts successful and extract the rewards that come along as a result, even if most networking events are now virtual.

It begins with a small mindset change. According to Janet Falk of Falk Communications and Research, you’ve got to get into networking to win it. For success, you have to put yourself out there, provide solutions to people, connect with them, and earn the referrals you deserve. Unsure how to take the first step?

Join the conversation on this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin and Janet Falk of Falk Communications and Research as they talk about tips for networking successfully in a pandemic. Highlights include networking best practices, joining a networking group, getting the best out of virtual networking events, crafting an effective elevator pitch, 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

Intro 0:04

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 0:22

Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature successful professionals in the legal industry from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing we help law firms generate more clients in cases using search marketing. And today I’d like to welcome our podcast guest Janet Falk. Janet is the head of Falk Communications and Research. Janet is a communications professional who advises attorneys at small law firms and solo practices on media relations and marketing communication in order to attract new clients, remain top of mind with prior clients and help recruit new associates into their firms. She has published articles in the New York Law Journal, the New Jersey Law Journal, and Marketing The Law Firm said Did I say that right? Yes, the New Jersey Law Journal and marketing the law firm. Is that the name of the publication?

Janet Falk 1:15

No there are three publications, the New York Law Journal, the New Jersey Law Journal, and Marketing the law firm.

Matthew Laurin 1:23

Okay, we’re all published by HLN. She has published articles in the New York Law Journal, the New Jersey Law Journal and marketing the law firm. Janet, welcome to the show.

Janet Falk 1:32

Matthew, I’m so happy to be here.

Matthew Laurin 1:35

Can you tell our audience a little bit more about yourself?

Janet Falk 1:38

Certainly, if you look at my logo, Matthew, you’ll see it’s an F, seated in the shape of an octagon. I like to think that I’m not a round peg. I’m not a square peg. I’m an octagonal peg. I have a very eclectic background. I have a PhD in Spanish literature. I taught at the college level. Then I migrated to working on Wall Street. And then I became involved with public relations and marketing communications. In my course, in the course of my career, I have worked with public relations agencies, Wall Street firms, and with nonprofits. And now I have an independent practice, though, I’m a consultant to, as you mentioned, law firms that are under 50 attorneys, or people who have a solo practice. And I also work with business owners, and consultants, and consultants and the occasional nonprofit, I help them in a variety of ways. I look at their LinkedIn profile and make sure that it’s polished, and attracting the right kind of visitors. I make sure that their website is up to date. I help them publish articles and with their newsletters. And of course, I introduce them to reporters so that they can talk about timely business issues that are going to affect individuals, business owners, or even corporations.

Matthew Laurin 3:00

Thank you so much for your intro, and that it does sound like you have a really eclectic background. I like the the logo and the octagon that’s that’s, that’s really different. I’ve never heard that before. And today you will be bestowing wisdom on us with the five personal networking tips for zoom meetings.

Janet Falk 3:16

Right, right. So we’re here to talk about networking. And I do want to mention that networking is what brought me to this podcast, one of your colleagues, James Nguyen, who lives in California, asked a legal marketing professional, Larry Bodine, who lives in Arizona, if he knew of any legal marketing professionals who might make good guests for the podcast. And Larry recommended me, I live in New York. So you can see that between California, Arizona, New York, this is how networking works, where people who have an allied interest can refer each other possibilities and opportunities. And by the way, Larry Bodine and I have never met, we have a strictly digital relationship by email, I have contributed articles to his publications and, and so forth. So there you have it, networking at its finest.

Matthew Laurin 4:15

I love that, how you kind of plucked that unique benefit out of networking in this weird time that we’re going through. Um, and that is a really huge plus, like, a lot of the people that I work with right now, I’ve never even met in person before, but we know a lot about each other. We work on a daily basis and in you know, personal networking in the age of COVID. It just doesn’t seem to be a really good match, but you’ve found a way to make it really successful and pull out a lot of the benefits. Um, can you walk us through some of the best practices that you you coach your clients on?

Janet Falk 4:50

Sure. I want to say that you have to be in it to win it is just like the lottery. You have to show up. There isn’t a whole lot of networking going on. in your living room, so you have to get out there and be in the marketplace. A lot of groups no longer have a fee, because they want to encourage membership. They’re not paying to rent the room, and they’re certainly not serving meals. So take advantage of the fact that you can be visiting these groups, because you’re not paying any money to do so. And how do you find these groups? One way is to ask your referral sources or your clients, ask them to introduce you to the group that they attend. And that way you can keep up to date with what our issues for that particular sector or that particular industry, and you can remain current with what’s going on. And you will be extending your network, because the context that you make there are going to lead you to other possibilities. And if you’re already involved in some groups yourself, then you can invite those same referral sources and clients to your group. And that way, they can be extending their reach out, one hand washes the other, you have to be in it to win it. You have to be out there and participating in groups. Nobody’s going to meet you if you’re staying home alone.

Matthew Laurin 6:10

That’s great advice. If so for people participating in these groups that you obviously have to show up and, and participate. Is there a goal that you would recommend for people like, you know, you should make an attempt to, you know, learn at least three people’s names? Or are they designed in a way to get engagement?

Janet Falk 6:28

Well, I think going to have a goal, there are multiple goals for attending a networking event, I like to view myself as the hub of a wheel. And I collect resources. So I want to meet people of many different backgrounds, because I never know where something’s going to leave. A couple of months ago, I attended a networking group, and I met someone who was a cyber security professional. And a couple months later, I had a client who was in a compromised situation with her cell phone and with her computer, and she needed a cybersecurity professional to help her out. So there you have it, I collect resource resource. I think everyone represents a solution. And everyone has a problem. So by participating in diverse networking groups, I collect resources, I learned about people solutions, I learned about people’s problems, and then I’m able to make the match and put those two people together. So that’s a primary reason why I go to networking groups. There’s another reason to go to networking groups, and that is to learn from the speaker. Right? Many groups are getting together, they’re having a networking session when this was in person before and then the speaker would speak. And then afterwards, it would be more networking opportunities. So in that situation, you want to learn from that person, they are standing at the front of the room, because they know something that you don’t, and you want to benefit from their experience. And if you’ve found something valuable, then you can take that back. And you can write a LinkedIn post or put it in a newsletter and say, you know, great insights I gleaned from a speaker at the moment. And this is what I think other people would benefit from. So you can learn from the speaker, and then you can disseminate that information to your network. Another reason to be involved is to be in touch with what’s happening, informally find out who has a hot case, find out who’s moving their office who’s growing their practice, was looking to hire, and you can make interesting connections in that way as well. So people will look to you as a source of information, because you have been sharing what’s topical, what you have learned, you will be sharing the resources that you have with your diversified group of contacts. And you will be in touch with the scuttlebutt of what is hot and tight and current, what’s happening in the local geography or even in the industry. So those are some of the many reasons why it’s important to be involved in networks.

Matthew Laurin 9:11

I had no idea that you know, just having an open mind, you’d be able to peel so many layers back from this. I wanted to switch gears a little bit, I noticed your background is customized with your name, your contact information. Can you talk a little bit more about that too?

Janet Falk 9:26

Right. I think this is a missed opportunity. I happen to have viewed a few of your earlier podcasts, Matthew and I noticed that you have to go back to September to find someone who use this as a branding opportunity. And that person I’m sorry to say, underplayed it. He just had the banner from his booth at a trade show, and it had his logo, MOD, which nobody knows what that is, it actually means My Out Desk. So if you’re going to be on a zoom call, then take the opportunity to make your contact information. And information about yourself and your practice more visible, because everybody’s able to see it. And there are many templates that are available online. Now you have to remember that this is a frame, and you are seated in the middle of the frame. So I’ve seen people that take their logo, and they plop it smack dab in the middle of the picture. Well, that’s not very helpful because I’m sitting in the middle of the picture. So I encourage your viewers and your listeners to get a customized virtual zoom background, use the templates that are available online and put your contact information there. Because that way you will stand out. I can’t tell you how many rooms I’ve seen that I wish I hadn’t seen before.

Matthew Laurin 10:48

That’s funny. And I noticed yours is simple but effective. So it’s got your name, phone number, email, and then your title or what you do. Right.

Janet Falk 10:57

Right. Right. So there is no mistake, everybody can clearly see what it is I do the value that I bring, and they can easily get into.

Matthew Laurin 11:07

Great advice. I also noticed here that you just have a solid background is that is that intentional, you do not want to have a lot going on. So the people that are just drawn to the contact information.

Janet Falk 11:20

I want people to be drawn to my face.

Matthew Laurin 11:23


Janet Falk 11:27

Yeah, no, you don’t want it to be too busy.

Matthew Laurin 11:30

Okay, okay. Noted. Your I wanted to switch gears again here to your your elevator pitch, which is Tip number four on your on your slides here. So crafting an effective elevator pitch. Is that

Janet Falk 11:45

a grammar? Okay, right. So by now everybody should have an elevator pitch, it’s 30 seconds. It’s between 75 and 84 words. And the idea of your elevator pitch is to summarize your skill or your practice area, you might want to mention a target client that you worked with, or a target referral source. And then you speak about how you help that particular client. Now many people say my name is Janet Falk, I’m public relations professional and I work with an attorney. By the time you’ve heard three or four of these, you’ve already forgotten what the first one said. So I have a very different approach. public speakers say use the first 15 seconds when the audience is primed to listen to what you have to say, and capture their attention. And the way to do that is to start with a question or to tell a story. And that way you will stand out from everybody else that’s giving there. My name is and this is what I do with this in this company. I’ll give you mine. And that’ll give you a flavor for how this works. When you see someone in the news, and they’re talking about your area of practice, do you think why are they talking to her and not me? The answer is reporters call the people they know, they don’t call an attorney they’ve never heard of. I’m Janet Falk, a Public Relations and Marketing Communications professionals. And I help attorneys who have a small firm or a solo practice to get in the news. So they can be top of mind with their referral sources and attract new business. If being in the news will attract more clients for you and help you to grow your practice. Be in touch with me Janet Falk, strategy for news coverage and revenue growth. Now you can see that is very different from the I am is such and such, and I work at such and such, right, because I have asked a question that immediately grabbed your attention, right? Why are they talking to her and not me, I’m sure you agree that lawyers tend to be a little competitive. And so the thought that another person is getting in the news is really going to hurt them. And the second thing is that I give a call to action. I say if being in the news is going to help you grow your practice, then be in touch with me. So I have described what the problem is, how I can help you and why you should get in touch with me. So I encourage your viewers to think about their elevator pitch and turn it on its head in this way so that it will capitalize on the fact that people are waiting to hear what you have to say and get. give that information and then practice it. Practice it so that you can do it at the drop of a hat just like I did. And the way to practice it is to record it and use a stopwatch and that way you will make sure that you keep it within the 30 to 45 seconds. That is usually the guideline for networking groups. What do you say?

Matthew Laurin 14:53

My favorite part about that is that you shifted it from being focused on you to focus On the audience and their pain points, which was one of my questions in the beginning, and you kind of already answered it. But it was, you know, do you make it less me focused and more, you know, include a pain point about your audience, because that’s what we do. Every time I hear an elevator pitch, or every time I read marketing language on a website or things like that, a lot of it is me focused and people don’t really speak to their their audience. So I like how you did that is that that’s intentional, right?

Janet Falk 15:27

Yeah, exactly. It’s never about me, it’s always about you, right. And you is the person who you want to be interested in your services. So you have to make it about the reader so that they will see themselves in the situation, and then want to be a part of it. So I give you an example. That’s visual, and I think you’ll understand, I had a client that was a park, and they had beautiful grounds. And they hadn’t shot a photograph of two Adirondack chairs, overlooking the river. Now, just because there are empty chairs doesn’t mean you want to go there. You know, my suggestion was that they take a picture of a married couple, pushing a child in a stroller from the back, don’t see the face. And then you would see that there are paved walkways in the park. And then you would think, aha, I can bring my child in a stroller there, I can bring my father in law in his wheelchair there. If you see people in the picture, you want to be in the picture. So it’s never about me, it’s always about you. And by talking about this competitive aspect of being in the news, I have captured your attention and help you to envision, yes, I want to be that person was quoted in the news.

Matthew Laurin 16:51

Your fifth tip here is about something that I don’t think a lot of people notice, probably because they’re not used to the platform. Or maybe there’s just a lot going on, but chat in zoom meetings.

Janet Falk 17:01

Right? Right. So there’s two ways of looking at the chat in a zoom meeting. First, you can broadcast to everybody. And what I suggest you do is that you prepare your contact information ahead of time. So you can see as I have on my virtual background, I have my name, something about my practice, my phone number, my email address, I could also include my website URL, and I have saved that as a draft email, so that when I’m in the zoom meeting, I just copy and paste that information right into the chat. So I don’t have to worry if I forgotten something, or if I have a typo, I know that it’s perfect. And when you paste that information about your contact into the zoom chat, you wait until the middle of the session, don’t do it in the beginning, because people are kind of drifting in, and maybe they won’t see it. And don’t do it at the end because people are leaving, and they might not see it. But do it in the middle. And you can do it more than once. So that everybody will have your contact information. The second thing about chat is that you should be monitoring who are the participants in the event. And when you identify someone that you know already, or someone makes a comment that you find industry interesting. Then you click on the box, which has their picture, and in the upper right corner, you touch chat, and then you can send a private message to that person. And then they will be notified that you have contacted them. So you can say hi, Matthew, how’s it going? How do you like the new office? Or Hi, Matthew, you’re a long time no see, or Hi, Matthew, your practice is so interesting, I work in a similar area. So you can be having a private conversation alongside whatever else is going on in the networking meeting. Now, you have to be careful to only chat to that individual person. Many times inadvertently. We’ve all seen someone send a chat to everyone, which was really meant to one person. And that happens. I want to point out that you can save the chat yourself by clicking the three dots in the lower corner. But you want to mention that you want to be careful because the moderator of the meeting can save all the chats. And that means the everyone chats and that means the private chat. So don’t say anything in a private chat that you don’t want to see in the front page of the newspaper. Right keep it clean.

Matthew Laurin 19:39

That’s great advice. And if we are probably not something a lot of people think about is like oh, this could be saved for later. Is there anything additional besides contact information people could put in a chat like is it against or you know, not not effective to put in maybe like your LinkedIn profile or any other kind of information about yourself?

Janet Falk 19:59

I’ve seen people put in their LinkedIn profile. I mean, that’s okay. But you know, I don’t want to feel compelled to follow up on something like that. Sometimes, if it’s relevant, and I’ve written an article or I’ve written a newsletter on a topic, then I will share the link to that. But it takes a couple minutes for me to get that ready, and then to post it, and by that time, the conversation might have moved on. So you know, it is a little time sensitive. If you have something that’s current, if you say, you know, I’m going to be giving a presentation on networking for p Li, and it’s taking place on this in this state, here’s the link to register, you know, you can coordinate your speech with posting in the chat. So that’s one thing. But most of the time, if you have an idea, or an article or something like that, then it takes a little while and the conversation might have gotten ahead of you, you have to be careful, it’s easier to do that when you’re in the small group. Many times the large networking events disperse the participants into smaller groups. And so there you tend to have a little more time because everybody’s focused on the four or five people who are in that row. Oh, and by the way, I have an idea about that show. I mentioned it.

Matthew Laurin 21:16


Janet Falk 21:17

Yeah. So what happens when you are dispersed into the smaller breakout room? Right? Everybody’s looking around saying who’s in charge? Well, I’ll tell you, who’s in charge here, Matthew, you are in charge, right? You step up to the plate, and you say, I’m Janet, well, I’m public relations professional, I want to share my elevator pitch with everybody in the room. And then I’m going to call on each of you so that you can share your elevator pitch, right. So don’t sit around waiting for somebody else to be in charge, you be in charge, you know, call on everyone and give them knowledge. Now, it may be that when you were dispersed to the small group, that the leader of the large group has posed a question for you. So you can leave that discussion. But what if they did it? And then once everybody has given their elevator pitch, then you come up with a question, come up with a question that everyone can answer. It’s not specific to a practice area. instead say, what do you think about business development? And during the COVID time, what are you doing about your newsletter? What are you doing about speaking engagements? Have you been on any podcast? What do you recommend about the podcast universe and so on? So ask a question that everybody can answer. And then when you go back to the large room, you can say, we had such a lively discussion about podcasts. And I want to tell you that Matthew, Laurin had this great idea. And I’m going to share it with everyone. So now your name is being broadcast to everyone in the room. They’re all hearing your great idea. And I’ve made you look brilliant. And you think I’m your best friend.

Matthew Laurin 22:56

That’s awesome. And I, so a lot of people might be thinking, How do I sort of step outside of my comfort zone and do that? I mean, a lot of people might be sort of reluctant to take charge in a group setting like that. any tips you have for that?

Janet Falk 23:12

Is what I said at the beginning, you have to be in it to win it. I mean, you know, there’s no point sitting around and watching everybody else, wait for somebody to take charge, right? We’re all adults, we all know that we’re here to discuss and connect. And it’s not going to happen unless somebody makes it happen. So you know, I’m happy to do that. And if someone else wants to do it, fine. I’ll sit back and I’ll participate like everybody else.

Matthew Laurin 23:35

I’m one of your other tips is staying top of mind and reconnecting with colleagues? Can you speak a little bit more to that?

Janet Falk 23:41

Sure. There are so many ways that you can keep in touch with people. Of course, as we mentioned earlier, you can connect with them on LinkedIn, say I really enjoyed our conversation at such and such networking group. Let’s keep in touch and I want to get together with you outside. If you mentioned any newsletters or any articles, you can send them to that person, you can offer to introduce them to a colleague, someone who has an aligned interest because they work in a similar practice, right? They might deal with automobile accidents, and you might deal with construction worker accidents, it may be that you want to introduce them to a referral source. And you might even be part of that conversation. You introduce the two of them and then you are a member of a three way conversation. Maybe people have a newsletter, and I want to remind your viewers that if they don’t have a newsletter, which I’m sure it’s a service you provide, they should have one at least quarterly, if not monthly. And then you can sign up for another person’s newsletter and ask them to subscribe to your newsletter. In fact, in my email signature, I have a link to my current newsletter and a link so that you can subscribe here. You can suggest the topic and maybe co author an article with that person. Or co present a webinar or co present on a podcast. There are other ways that you can partner up and make each other look smart. You can tell them about an upcoming webinar or event or a podcast that they might like to attend whether or not you’re going to be speaking, you can invite them to be an event that you’re going to attend. Oftentimes, when I have a conversation with someone, then I get some nugget of information that I find is very valuable. So I write a LinkedIn post. And I say, I had a great conversation with Matthew Laurin, we talked about podcasting, and one of his tips is x by put that as a LinkedIn post, and then I grab his photo from his LinkedIn profile. And I put it in there so that it makes it more visible and more interesting to people who are scrolling through. And now I’m giving him notice that he’s being shared with my network, and other people are going to hear what it is that he has to say. So I think that there were just so many ways that you can be digitally present, and inviting other people to participate with you whether you want to have a three way conversation with some people who have allied interest, whether you want to invite them to an event where you’re going to be attending or you’re going to be speaking, whether you want to work on a project with them, you know, coming up with an idea for an article or a webinar or appearing on a podcast together, maybe you know that a publication is looking for articles on a certain topic. So many of the legal publications like the New York Law Journal, the New Jersey Law Journal has special sections. And they’re always looking for articles, by attorneys on, you know, trends in the States or personal injury or complex litigation, you can find out about such things and then share it with your network, invite people to be authors for such a publication. So I think there’s so many ways that you can be reminding people of opportunities. And then, as I mentioned before, they will see you as the hub of resources of the person to contact, who has their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry, who can provide them with sources for help, or sources who can refer them on to someone else. And just keep building that network so that we will continue to be seen as the person who has ideas that can help others.

Matthew Laurin 27:29

It sounds like you have to be very intentional about it, not just go to these events, and then maybe think of some stuff to do afterwards plan. I’m going to do an email, I’m going to have a draft of an email ready, I’m going to mention these people on social media, I’m going to post on social media, I’m going to be very active, all of those things. Right.

Janet Falk 27:48

Right. You can do some of them, you don’t have to do all of them. I mean, obviously I have listed too many things that a lawyer is going to do in their unbuildable time. But I do think that you should try to do them, try to do different types. There’s people who say that there are five ways of getting business, right. So the first way is networking. And here we are having this conversation about networking. The second way is speaking, I’m speaking on a podcast, right, or you can be speaking to a bar association. The third way is writing. So I mentioned that I have a monthly newsletter, you should have a newsletter at least quarterly. Or you can write articles or trade publications that your clients read, or you can write articles or legal publications that you’re referring client, you’re referring attorney colleagues are going to send you business, right. So networking, speaking, writing, then the fourth way is being active in the trade association of your target market. So I am interested in working with attorneys, I belong to three networking groups of attorneys. So one is deliberate solos here in New York, mostly, and they are people who have chosen to have the solo practice. The second one is women owned law. And that is membership organization, I pay a fee for that. And it is women who are partners are who have their own practice or who have a solo practice, or women owned businesses that serve the legal market. And then the third is called legal Resource Network, which is legal professionals and those who serve the legal market. So I am active in all of these groups, and I share ideas with them and I attend their events. And I have spoken to the three groups. And then the first way is extend your presence online. So everything that I do in terms of networking, speaking, writing, and being active in these groups, I mentioned to my online community. Now I want to point out that LinkedIn as wonderful as it is, whatever you post on LinkedIn only goes to 9% of your contacts if you post things on Facebook, It only goes to 2% of your content. If you post on Twitter, it only is seen by 1% of your content. So if you don’t want to be seen by more than 90% of the people, then don’t be active on social media. But if you do want to be seen there, then my I encourage your listeners to be active on LinkedIn. But you have to do it successively, because you’re only going to get 9%, and then 9%, and then 9% over time. So those are the ways that I encourage you to be active, and to develop your practice through networking, which is the most valuable. attorneys say that they get their best clients from referrals. Where do referrals come from? They come from your network. So if you’re not in it to win it, you’re not out there. If you’re not providing solutions to people, if you’re not connecting people, then you’re not going to get those referrals.

Matthew Laurin 31:00

a wealth of really great information to help people grow their businesses. Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been listening to Janet Falk, a Head of Falk Communications and Research, Janet, where can people go to learn more about your services?

Janet Falk 31:12

Certainly, my website is Janet. JANET L is law. F is friends, And by the way, I offer a free 30 minute consultation, we can look at your LinkedIn profile, we can look at your communication strategy, talk about your media outreach, talk about your newsletter, be in touch with me.

Matthew Laurin 31:38

Thank you so much for being on the show and spending your time and sharing all of your information with us.

Janet Falk 31:43

I really enjoyed it. Thank you.

Outro 31:49

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.

Why Digital Forensics is Essential For Your Practice

March 17, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Lars Daniel

Lars Daniel is a Practice Leader of Digital Forensics at Envista Forensics. Lars is a qualified expert witness in the field of digital forensics and has testified in both state and federal courts. He is an EnCase Certified Examiner (EnCE), a Cellebrite Certified Logical Operator (CCLO), and provides Continuing Legal Education (CLE) classes for attorneys nationwide. Outside of the courtroom, Lars is the Co-Author of the book Digital Forensics for Legal Professionals: Understanding Digital Evidence from the Warrant to the Courtroom.

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

  • Who is Lars Daniel?
  • Lars explains digital forensics.
  • The story of how mobile phone forensics helped a company figure out how their employee lied about a kidnapping.
  • What goes into verifying text message evidence?
  • The role of the digital forensics expert in a criminal case.
  • What to do when you get a phone from a client for evidence.
  • How to collect and preserve potential evidence on social media.
  • The devices you should be asking for when you need digital proof to support your case.

In this episode…

In today’s digital world, we’re constantly leaving behind a trail of digital footprints. As lawyers, some of those footprints could come in handy as evidence in any legal practice. But the problem is that there aren’t many lawyers who understand digital forensics—or how to deploy it to their advantage.

Take a listen to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin and Lars Daniel, Practice Leader of Digital Forensics at Envista Forensics. Lars breaks down the concept, process, and essence of digital forensics for lawyers. He sheds light on what to do when you need evidence from a phone, how to source proof from social media, the devices you need when you’re looking for digital evidence, and more.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Books Mentioned: 

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

Intro  0:04

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  0:22

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 in cases using search marketing. And today we have a special guest not a lawyer but Lars Daniel Lars is a practice leader of digital forensics at Envista Forensics. Lars is a qualified expert witness in the field of digital forensics and has testified in both state and federal courts. Lars is also the Co-author of the book, Digital Forensics for Legal Professionals: Understanding Digital Evidence from the Warrant to the Courtroom, published by and I’m probably gonna get this wrong since syngress

Lars Daniel  1:05

Syngress yeah it is an imprint of Elsevier. So you’re you’re close

Matthew Laurin  1:08

Imprint of Elsevier publishing and Lars, thank you for being with us on the show today.

Lars Daniel  1:13

Oh, my pleasure. Absolutely.

Matthew Laurin  1:14

I’ve heard of Elsevier publishing, but I’ve never heard of that imprint before. So I’ve heard a lot about you, our director

Lars Daniel  1:20

that’s where they that’s where they put all the nerd books so the the Syngress is all the digital forensics and stuff like that. That’s what you know, Elsevier doesn’t want that mixed in with the rest of their brands. And they push it over to singers. I think I just joking. But

Matthew Laurin  1:32

yeah, I don’t think he’d give you enough self enough. kind of sounds like super interesting stuff. And I, I’ve read some of your some of your stories passed on to me by your your acquaintance. And yeah, interesting stuff. So I’ll just jump right in here. For our listeners who are not familiar in the field of digital forensics. Can you tell us what it encompasses?

Lars Daniel  1:51

Yeah, absolutely. So digital forensics is is the umbrella terminology we use for sub disciplines inside of it. So inside of digital forensics, you would have things like computer forensics, cell phone, forensics, cell phone location analysis, and other types of location forensics, GPS, forensics, and an in vehicle infotainment, and telematics systems. So in other words, if they get to electricity and stores data in some fashion, it’s likely that it falls within the realm of digital forensics, as far as the experts who would examine it, to find forensic artifacts on that, and then prepare that as a report and then could testify to it.

Matthew Laurin  2:31

So in some of those shows, like CSI shows like that you always see the digital forensic people. That’s that’s you right? Behind the Scenes doing this? Sort of,

Lars Daniel  2:40

it’s sort of us yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a lot, it’s a lot more fun. As far as the colors in the rooms, and the, and how fast it goes is nice. I remember one time filming for a new station, and they were talking about a case and they came in, they brought they brought all these extra lights because they came into our offices and it looks just like a normal office, right? Or, you know, in some of our offices where you sit down, it looks like a like a law firm more than it looks like a like a lab. So they turn all these red and blue lights and they turn all the lights off to make it look like CSI so they can get their shots for the news it was was pretty entertaining.

That’s awesome. So Lars, how did you get started in the world of digital forensics?

Yeah, that’s a that’s that’s a good question. So by accident, that’s how I got started in it never intended to do this. So growing up, my father is a serial entrepreneur had all kinds of different companies from he worked in building automation controls to fiber optics. Then he owned it companies and computer stores. And I worked for him for a long time. I went to college, went to graduate school, trying to get a degree in philosophy of all things. And he needed help, because he was doing so well. So I came back and worked for nothing for a while. And then eight years later, in Vista, Francis came along and acquired our company. And here we are to date. And I’ve been doing this for a total of 12 years now. So it was a family business. We wrote some books, got a bunch of certifications and did the other stuff normally you would do to market a business and grow it. And then we were purchased. But that’s the that’s the short of it.

Matthew Laurin  4:11

That’s an amazing story. Really cool that you get to work for your father.

Lars Daniel  4:14

Now he still works. We still works with us too. So that’s great. He’s a senior principal consultant here. He’s testified over 70 times the state and federal courts. So a bit of a bit of a legend in the digital forensics community.

Matthew Laurin  4:27

Very cool. So I’ve heard a couple of stories about your work that are pretty interesting. One about kidnappers bottle service and mobile phone forensics. Are you able to tell me that one?

Lars Daniel  4:40

Yeah, sure. We can do that one. So this is a case that one of our examiner’s dead and it’s a it’s pretty interesting you don’t think about location forensics always been utilized in a fashion like this or if you do you think murder cases or sex crimes right? Do they have the bracelet on to the go somewhere they shouldn’t. But this this all, it all comes together and and is utilized in civilization. too and this is one such example of that. And in this case, now we get a call from the attorney, right. And there’s concern that an employee has jeopardized the company’s reputation. That’s that’s where it starts off. That’s what we think the issue is. Yeah, it’s an interesting story. The employee told us this is what happened after a business brought us onto examined. So what he was saying is that he was on an international business trip, right. He’d been working hard all week, and he wanted to go let off some steam. So went to explore the city, pretty normal stuff like that. The next morning, he boarded the plane and returns to the United States. But a week passes, and when it comes back to counting notices that that there’s five plus figures racked up on his company credit card, right, so a lot of money has been spent. And it’s all accrued on like a single night. So it all happens in the span of very short period of time. Now, remember, and note that this employee says nothing to his boss, he hasn’t mentioned anything at all about these charges. So when he is questioned, finally, by accounting and so forth, he recounts his experience like something of an action movie where he is kidnapped for over six hours and held in a room, bays locked up, you know, he’s, and he’s tied up and can’t do anything. Obviously, there’s some suspicion from the company, really, in the main reason, their suspicion is that he claims the card was just compromised, and not stolen, because it’s still in the employees possession, which is interesting. Anyway, if you kidnap somebody want to just pick the card to write. And second, he never reported this to international authorities or to anyone stateside when he got back. So it’s just out of nowhere, you have this story. So they asked us to come come look at the iPhone and so forth. Look at his location data. And when we look at this phone, we see a few things. First of all, we noticed that there were applications deleted on the phone, contemporaneous around the time when he’s allegedly kidnapped. And as we look at this data, we find a few things one, the Apple Watch data that is recorded on the Apple Watch where you’re walking around and going upstairs and stuff like that that’s dumped through the phone, and it’s saved in the health application. So we can see where you’re walking the distance and for going upstairs, direction changes, location information is all on the phone that we can get through forensic analysis. And there’s miles walked in this period of time where he is supposed to be tied up, bro. That’s the Yeah, that’s the first issue. The other application that was deleted that we recovered was the translator application. And we recovered a deleted text message. And this deleted text message goes something like this. Last night was amazing. And I can’t believe you can’t find a man someday someone will find you and it will end up perfectly. You’re so beautiful. You’re perfect by American standards. Words can’t express how much I miss you, you know, normal, normal stuff like that. Oh, that sounds. So yeah, we found all this out. And what happened is that message was sent while he’s boarding a plane to come back to the United States to so as you as you can tell, it was a good outcome for the company in this situation just because yeah, he did go out and have some extra curricular activities one night and and try to come up with a nice fanciful story, but it certainly is entertaining.

Matthew Laurin  8:25

Very incriminating. Yeah, geez. Um, so was that was that case ever in court? Or was that like a private company that hired you to figure that out?

Lars Daniel  8:35

Yeah. So I can’t share everything about that. But that was a private company that that retained us for that group counsel to examine that one. So yeah, that would never went to court.

Matthew Laurin  8:44

Okay. Gotcha, gotcha. So we a lot of our audience, our personal injury attorneys, Divorce Attorneys. Do you have any interesting stories around that? Especially around maybe like the divorce or family law one?

Lars Daniel  9:00

Yeah, sure. You know, one of the biggest issues we see in family law in particular, I this really goes across the board. But it’s it really is a big issue. And Family Law is verifying text message evidence. And here’s what I say about that. So when I’m when I’m doing a forensic examination, or forensic expert is we have tools, where we can make a forensic copy called a forensic acquisition. And once we have that copy, we can run an algorithm against it. That gives us a mathematical number, a digital fingerprint, right? This is the digital DNA. So I have a perfect snapshot in time of how that data exists. I can validate it, I can say it’s real, all that other stuff. What you see most, most often in court as evidence, especially Family Law, these other areas of text messages are pictures of text messages, right? You take a screenshot or a picture of a message someone sent you, and then you give that to your attorney or you supply that discovery. That’s the problem. And the problem is is that that constitutes what’s called a manual examination. Which I could talk about in a second. But here’s the real issue. You can fake those messages. You can spoof messages you can fake message, make them look absolutely real. I’ve testified a number of times about this. I’ve written about this written affidavits about this, we’ve discovered this is actually faked messages multiple times in cases. It’s a real, it’s a real problem today.

Matthew Laurin  10:20

That’s crazy. How did How do people do that? Is it?

Lars Daniel  10:25

Yeah, you can literally go to a website, you can search for fake, make a fake text message. And it will bring you up to websites where you can put in who it’s from, who it’s to what you want the message to, say, your battery life, the carrier of the number of bars of service that you have, and then you hit Done. And you can download a picture that looks exactly like a real screenshot. You can set the time. That’s one method. There’s a whole lot of other methods. I have a little guy that have I give out on how that’s done. But there’s there’s many methods and they don’t require a high level of technical sophistication, a normal person can do this.

Matthew Laurin  10:57

That’s so crazy. So how, how do you figure out what’s real and what’s not? Is it possible?

Lars Daniel  11:03

Yeah, it is possible one, if that is supplied in discovery, then you have to go do an examination of the phone that came from, or it was sent to preferably the sending phones the best source because that evidence should exist there. And also, if it’s a particular type of message, a normal text message was just SMS or short message service. So if you have an iPhone, and it comes across as green, that’s an SMS. If it’s blue, that’s iMessage, for example, there are different types of messaging. But those will show up in in call detail reports are kind of like a super phone bill, you can subpoena that we have language for that, we also give out if anyone needs it. And in that, it will show a transaction of a text message being sent one direction or the other. That would be one way you would determine it, because if it exists in the call detail reports, it was really something was really sent at that date and time you correlate it back to date on the phone. In other words, much more holistically. Now to save the headache. If an attorney who’s listening to this, one of your attorneys who handles Injury Law just needs a text message and doesn’t want to call an expert, here’s what you do. You take that phone out, he set it on a table. And make sure you put it in airplane mode and stuff like that, because that’s just you should. So it’s not getting any new data while you’re doing your exam, doing your pictures, and take pictures with a separate camera of that phone of the message or whatever you want to document. And the entire time while you’re taking those pictures. You have the video camera over your shoulder recording the whole process from the time you powered on your examination powered off and put the phone away. That’s your verification that you didn’t change anything or create anything or delete anything. And that’s exactly what we would do we just have fancier tools to do it.

Matthew Laurin  12:43

Interesting. Very interesting. That’s a great tip. Are there any criminal law cases? You’ve worked on that? Where there’s some interesting stories?

Lars Daniel  12:52

Yeah, there’s some interesting stories, some interesting cases. I had the opportunity to work on the Dylann Roof case as the Charleston church shooter. You remember that for the defense? Yeah, that was a that was a fascinating case to work on. I had the opportunity to work on the James Holmes theater shooter case, if you remember that one as well. That was the Batman movie on Colorado?

Matthew Laurin  13:13

Yes, that was in Colorado. Tell me about that one. Because that made a lot of headlines, the Colorado shooting?

Lars Daniel  13:18

Yeah, I don’t know how much I can tell about that. One. We did work on it. The parts that we did on that one, mostly, and this is what happens in a lot of criminal case. And I give the general outline of what we did is that there’s not a question, if there’s going to be some kind of big smoking gun found on a computer or a phone in a case like that. We’re not out there trying to find some evidence of innocence and the attorneys not either, right. It doesn’t make any sense for the theory of the case that they have for the actual events that occurred,

Matthew Laurin  13:47

right. Because they already know who did Yeah,

Lars Daniel  13:49

yeah. I mean, it’s the theater shooting, they get them on the scene. So but here’s what you we do do right. We can pull a lot of information from the computers in the phones that are relevant to mental health experts and other people who analyze that data and can utilize it to make their opinions. So we’re an intermediary in a case like that a lot of times similar to the Dylann Roof case. We did other stuff in that one too. But we’re pulling information related to what are they interested in? What are they searching for? What are they reading, and we’re putting it into a format that can be utilized by an expert who’s not a tech person, right? So we get those documents we make them like a real document so that your your mental health expert could could review that for their expert reports. So we’re pulling that information is you know, if you look into somebody’s computer, you look into their phone, a lot of times you’re kind of looking into their brain these days.

Matthew Laurin  14:42

How far back do you go on something like that?

Lars Daniel  14:46

In a case like that you go back as far as you can, like as much data is there. How far back we go really is going to depend on the type of case and what what you’re looking for if we’re looking for something related to a lifestyle analysis, right? Does this doctor go out every weekend? And as you know, it’s hookers and cocaine every weekend? Are they doing that? And we can show that through location activity and other stuff. And then there’s a malpractice issue. that’s relevant right? A long time. If this is an accident of vehicle accident case, we only may only care about distraction on the cell phone, you know, were they looking at a movie where they attach it to Bluetooth? Where they type in a message? Is it in the drafts or whatever? Because we can see all that usually down to the second what’s occurring on a phone with an accident. So what do we need 30 minutes before and after the accident? That’s usually what parties would agree to on both sides anyway, so it’s not a big span of data that we’re looking at.

Matthew Laurin  15:41

In the personal injury realm, is there any cases that stick out to you there that have been really memorable in some way?

Lars Daniel  15:51

Yeah, there definitely are. Really, what’s what’s fascinating, and what’s really useful today is just the amount of information available on social media, and on phones. And what a lot of times people forget, is that even though someone may delete, say, their Facebook profile, and it’s gone then right, it’s, it’s gone. But those fragments, or that data, or a lot of really pertinent data related to that Facebook profile still exists on other data repositories. And what I mean by that is that they’re gonna exist on the computers on your phones. And even if you’ve deleted the profile, there’s fragments and pieces of all that data in your storage areas on those devices that can be recovered. So a couple real quick and these two cases we were we worked we do plaintiff defense for independent experts who work for whoever decides to hire us. But these were both for the defense and one a gentleman was had a traumatic brain injury and was able to see lights, loud sounds and stuff, examine his phone and recover deleted videos and the rest, including geolocation data with Vegas that you know, live and live in the dream from the videos, lots of bright lights and sounds and, and other and other fun activities. Yeah. And the second one was a very similar story, the same thing can’t work traumatic brain injury, but there are a Disney World and there’s roller coasters and, and the whole thing. So that type of information is pretty common in those types of cases.

Matthew Laurin  17:12

Is there any case where that you’ve had that it was just really difficult to piece together a story or a timeline of what happened? Because the person was kind of aware of they’re being tracked?

Lars Daniel  17:22

Yeah, absolutely. One of the most complicated cases that I’ve had that I can talk about was a gentleman who worked inside an IT department at a company. And he left the company very disgruntled, but he also stole a bunch of intellectual property from that company, to the point that federal marshals ended up getting involved on track this guy down because he was running. While he was doing that, he somehow managed to get back in to the business and attached to it, like walked right in and hook the USB stick and started sucking down data and putting stuff on their servers you don’t want on there. But what actually happened at the end of the day, and because the marshals ended up getting him, but um, we recovered these artifacts from his system, showing that these messages back and forth these on Craigslist, trying to get people to pay them cash to sign them to sign an affidavit for a name change. So he’s trying to get a name change and a new passport to get out of the country. So he’s working on getting new documents with this intellectual property, this data, probably to go try to sell it. I don’t know. So pretty crazy, weird scenario.

Matthew Laurin  18:32

Very weird, and super jazzy.

Lars Daniel  18:34

And this this is at a location with like arm security that that escorts you around the building. So how we got in I don’t know that this isn’t a slouch, like normal office, this is a pretty serious IP that this company had.

Matthew Laurin  18:47

Yeah, an attorney gets a phone from a client, what should they do?

Lars Daniel  18:50

Yeah, if you got a phone from a client, the best thing to do, if you’re, if we’ll talk about it from two ways, one, you’re going to get an expert probably into you’re not okay. Either way, you receive that phone into your custody. And you want to, you want to make sure it’s not connected to any, any networks. Okay? If it’s connected to a network, two things can happen. When I say a network, I mean a Wi Fi network or wireless network. or, excuse me, a cellular network, obviously, the cellular network, we understand you put it in airplane mode that turns it off. However Wi Fi can be on even though sailors off because you can connect to Wi Fi on a plane, right? So that allows it to send and receive data, make calls everything else, we don’t want anything new getting in, we want to keep that data exactly as it is as one is taken into your possession. So make sure it’s in airplane mode. And that wireless connectivity is turned off. Okay, that’s step one. Step two, the best thing you can do is power it off. Just turn it off and store it away. Until such a time where you need to get something from that phone or you’re going to provide it to an expert. If you’re going to provide it to an expert. You simply give it to the expert and they take care of it from there, okay? If you’re going to try to capture something from it yourself. What you would do is that just like we mentioned, the only option available to you is a manual examination. That’s the camera and the video camera. That’s all you got, you don’t have any tools that you can utilize that are forensically sound, unless you go by them. So really, that’s what you’re left with. So what I suggest is a store, like I just mentioned, and then proceed to do your manual examination, capture whatever data that you need. And then once again, when you’re finished, leave it with airplane mode on. And so the wireless connectivity is all the connectivities are off, powered off, put it back into secure storage.

Matthew Laurin  20:41

Those are great tips. What about social media profiles? What if a social media profile attorney knows that that’s going to be a crucial piece of evidence to a case? in their case, what should they do? What should they tell their clients to be doing? If they know they need to save data there?

Lars Daniel  20:55

Sure, absolutely. So whether it’s instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, most of these applications have an ability where you can download your own data. So for example, with Facebook, you go to the top right, and there’s a little upside down arrow, you click on that, you go to settings, and then the settings, you can go through some different steps to download your own data. And you can find a guy for that right on Facebook, on how to get that information. And it will package everything that you have into like a little web page and send it to you. That’s the best way to collect your own data. Now, if you have a scenario where you’re trying to gather information about a person who’s not your client, you can’t do that, right, you can’t download someone else’s information like that, the best thing to do is to utilize a tool, similar like we have, we have some some some applications, forensic applications that allow us to point this tool at a social media account for a person are all their social media accounts. And what it does is every time something new is created by that person, it sucks it down into a in a forensic file, and it mathematically hashes each and every individual entry. So there’s no way you can say that this is fake, it’s absolutely real. It’s time stamped, and it’s automatic. So we set it and forget it, we walk away. And it’s just pulling down all that data is they generate new stuff, so you don’t have to be checking to in the morning or whatever to see if they you know, they posted about riding their bicycle again, we’re supposed to have a broke leg or whatever. That’s that’s what that’s really valuable for.

Matthew Laurin  22:24

Wow, that’s crazy. I don’t, I’m gonna think about this every time I’m using my social media accounts, or my phone. Right? So is there is there any instance where people aren’t being tracked really today in today’s world, if they’re using cell phones, if they’re using social media? computers?

Lars Daniel  22:40

Yeah, that’s a that’s a big question. No, not really, I mean, if you have a modern smartphone, and this is the reality, with all technology, you have a spectrum on one side, you have security. And the other side you have convenience, the more secure you make anything, the less convenient it is, therefore, the less fun, everything that’s fun on your phone requires access to your data. And it requires access to your location data. In particular, that’s how I can tell you, if the gym is really busy right now. Maybe you want to go later, or it can give you estimates on how long it’ll take to get to a location as it needs your location data. So here’s the issue, location data is on your phone, yes, you’re absolutely being tracked by applications, we can pull that from the phone. But even if you have location services turned off, you’re still being tracked by the cellular system. And that can be gathered via your your call detail reports, you get those via subpoena. They’re like a super phone bill. And you can get that you can track where they were based upon the towers they connected to historically. Other than that there’s also Google location services, which is, is tracking your location or Google location history. So there’s, there’s more ways than we could we have time in this podcast to explain how devices are tracking us. We’re not even into wearable technology yet, or there’s medical ingestibles that you certain yourself that are doing all this other stuff to see if you took your medicine. I mean, the the amount that is tracked about people is is only increasing.

Matthew Laurin  24:05

That’s something that came just came to mind. So if if an attorney is got a client where maybe that all of this technology is going to be useful in the case, what types of things besides their phone? Should they be asking them to? Hand over? Maybe they can document?

Lars Daniel  24:20

Yeah, absolutely. And it really is going to depend on the type of case. Obviously laptop computers, phones, those are primarily what you need. Every now and then we’ll want the wearable device. So the watch or the garment or whatever, if it’s wearable technology, that’s potentially of interest. But here’s the main thing to remember. Your wearable technology like your your smartwatches Yeah, we can get some stuff from that. But it’s pretty small compared to wait and get from the phone. These watches and other devices, heart rate monitors cranks that go on shafts of bikes that measure wattage, whatever, they’re really fancy sensors. And what a fancy sensor does, like in today’s world with the Internet of Things is that it collects data And then it can transmit that data. But it has a really small capacity to transmit data, and has a small capacity to store data and to process data. So what does that mean? Your watch may gather a bunch of stuff, but it dumps it to your phone. So we can get that from the phone, or we can get that from the computer. Or you can get that from the online account associated with your Garmin, Phoenix 5x, watch or your or your Apple Watch.

Matthew Laurin  25:25

So they may not be as crucial because it’s all going to the phone anyway.

Lars Daniel  25:30

Yeah, it’s not as crucial. I still get it, or I still maintain it just in case. The interesting thing about digital forensics is that unlike other disciplines, like DNA or fingerprints, while the means you utilize to examine that evidence may change, the evidence itself stays the same, and digital forensics, the tools to examine stuff, and the evidence itself is changing constantly, right? Because technology is moving at a breakneck pace. And we’re right behind him keeping up trying to be able to exploit that technology to get data from it. So while that watch may not be of interest today, it could very much be of interest six months from now, when some new technique is developed to get or extract a unique type of data artifacts from it.

Matthew Laurin  26:16

Gotcha. Lars, you’re writing some books, and you have Is it the one you have published so far?

Lars Daniel  26:22

Two publish. But the main one for attorneys right now is the Digital Forensics for Legal Professionals book. I have a series of books coming out soon, the one will be coming out later this year. That is the Attorneys Field Guide to digital Evidence, Mobile Phones. So that would be a whole series of the first ones on mobile phones. And the next one to come out will be just on location forensics. And these books are designed for attorneys. So it’s plain language explaining different types of acquisitions. Scott, what a cell phone protocol should like look like Scott language in it motions, orders, subpoena language for cell phone evidence, and a whole bunch of other stuff like that.

Matthew Laurin  26:59

And are these meant to be reference guys that they can like keep on their desk? And when they have a question that kind of just go through it? And Mark

Lars Daniel  27:06

Yeah, isn’t exactly a reference guide is wanting to also is like a primer or an overview. But really these books, what I wanted to do with these is you’ve got a case you got a piece of information coming from the opposing side where they’ve got an expert, I can I can sniff test what I’m hearing to see if it’s real one, and two, this has got what I need in this book to help me get the evidence I need. So how do I ask for a call detail record? So I get it exactly as I need it from Verizon, or how do I ask for that phone to be properly preserved? So I would I get it. It’s good, that type of stuff.

Matthew Laurin  27:45

That sounds like really great information and probably save them a ton of time from column experts just to get that exact same, you know line about what they need to do. Even listening to Lars Daniel, Practice Leader at Envista Forensics, Lars where can people go to learn more about in Envista Forensics and your services?

Lars Daniel  28:02

Yeah, absolutely. Envista Forensics, it’s just that’s Envista. And then I’m also on LinkedIn. Lars Daniel, you can find me on there. We’ll be happy to connect. Really appreciate the time today. I look forward to hear from anybody if you have any questions or need any of that stuff we talked about. Once again, I’m happy to give out different types of languages stuff for free to shoot me an email or in message on on LinkedIn.

Matthew Laurin  28:25

Thanks, Lars. Appreciate you being on the show.

Lars Daniel  28:27

Thank you.

Conclusion  28:31

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.

How to Differentiate Your Brand in Personal Injury Law Practice

March 3, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Lem Garcia is the Founder of Lem Garcia Law, one of the fastest-growing personal injury law practices in California. In 2014, he decided to venture out on his own and founded his personal injury practice with just a couple thousand in the bank and a lot of donated time and effort from his family. Now, Lem Garcia Law has grown to three locations, employs 15 employees, and has recovered millions of dollars for their clients.

Lem was working as a photographer for the L.A. Clippers when he decided to shift gears into law. He earned his law degree from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, where he received the full scholarship, was a member of the Law Review, and graduated in the top 20% of his class. After law school, Lem worked as an independent consultant at several law firms.

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

  • Who is Lem Garcia?
  • The story behind why Lem decided to start a law firm in one of the most competitive legal areas.
  • What does it take to build a brand strategy that’ll make you stand out in a competitive space?
  • How to leverage successful client relationships.
  • Things Lem wishes he did differently when he started his firm.
  • How does community outreach play into your law firm brand strategy?

In this episode…

The personal injury (PI) law practice is one of the most competitive areas—but that didn’t stop Lem Garcia from choosing to dive in and thrive in that space.

According to Lem, what makes a difference is building a brand strategy that sets you apart, leverages successful client relationships, hires and fires right, as well as being present and helpful in your community. Easy enough, right?

Learn how to build a brand strategy that’ll differentiate your personal injury law firm on this episode of The Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin and his guest, Lem Garcia of Lem Garcia Law. They discuss what it takes to create an effective and successful brand strategy, how to piggyback on flourishing client relationships, mistakes to avoid when starting your law firm, 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

Matthew Laurin 0:04

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.

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. And speaking of successful lawyers today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Lem Garcia founder of Lem Garcia Law, Lem received a journalism degree from California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, then worked as a Law Clerk for several years at a complex civil litigation firm in Pasadena. He earned his law degree from Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, where he received the full scholarship and was a member of the Law Review and graduated in the top 20% of his class. After law school, Lem worked as an independent consultant at several different law firms. In 2014, he made the decision to venture out on his own and founded his own personal injury practice that has now grown to three locations, employing a staff of 15 employees. Lem Welcome to the show. That’s quite a resume.

Lem Garcia 1:19

Thank you. Thanks for having me on the show. It’s It’s an honor.

Matthew Laurin 1:23

Yeah. Thanks for being here. So we’ll jump right in. Why did you decide to start your own practice in one of the most competitive legal practice areas in the industry.

Lem Garcia 1:33

So I started my office because I was unemployed at the time, I was looking for work. And when I went to law school, I always wanted to have my own business, have my own practice. before school, I was working for a solo attorney. And you know, I always wanted to do the same thing and do things my way. So when I was looking for work, I just said, You know what, this is a good time for me just to go ahead and do it. And when I started, I didn’t even know how competitive the space was, like, I had no idea how many personal injury attorneys there were out there. I had, I didn’t know I mean, I saw the commercial that’s on the billboards. But it didn’t really resonate with me just how competitive It really is. And I think if I knew at the time, I really probably wouldn’t have started like, now if you Google car accident attorney, you know, it’s just a long list of attorneys, helping people that have been injured. And it’s a super competitive space. And I think I was really just blessed by my ignorance to how many personal injury attorneys are out there. There are a lot of them.

Matthew Laurin 2:47

Yeah, there’s fierce competition in that in that specific practice area of law. So, that reminds me of a cool quote, or saying, and I can’t remember where I read this, but it was about navy seals. And at any point during their training, they can quit by going and ringing this bell on the beach. And, and the ones that do, you know, it’s more likely that that they’ll quit later on, because they already know what it feels like. And so it sounds like, yeah, that was a blessing, like, not even knowing what the how competitive space was, or how high the mountains you had to climb, were kind of helped you out a little bit and in certain things up.

Lem Garcia 3:26

Yeah, it helps tremendously. I mean, I was always there, I always wanted to help out people. I mean, to be clear, when I started, I didn’t focus only on personal injury. You know, I, I hung myself out, I hung a shingle to handle all kinds of cases, you know, I was doing worker’s comp, Social Security, disability, wills and trusts, you know, I just put a bunch of stuff out there, hopefully, that people would come to help out, know, and seek my help. And then the cases that I was getting were mostly personal injury claims. So I said, You know what, let me How can I best serve people like, well, just let me focus on this. And just really focus on learning this area of law so that I can best serve people and really just build a business that that’s really helping out a lot of people. And we’re doing a great job by just, you know, honing in on that particular area of law.

Matthew Laurin 4:24

And Lem the more that I read about you, I was seeing things about why you wanted to be a different personal injury law firm than what you’ve seen out in the space. Can you talk a little bit about what it takes to build a successful brand strategy? like where do you start? Is it internal culture development or processes or where you start with it?

Lem Garcia 4:45

Well, where I started with the businesses, really just looking at what people are doing. I think I just started doing research on law firms, and just really analyzing what firms are doing. What offices are doing? And how can I be different from what everybody else is doing? Because I think, really, you know, in a business, you have to stand out and to stand out, you have to be willing to be different. I think people are, you know, I think the inclination is to say, Okay, well, let me see what everybody else is doing. Let me copy that, so that I can replicate their success? Well, I think it’s important to not just see what they’re doing and what works, but also to see how you can be different and stand out to the clients and the public that you’re that you’re trying to help.

Matthew Laurin 5:38

So what were some of the things that you saw that a lot of PI firms were doing that you could do different or better when you when you did your research?

Lem Garcia 5:46

So I looked at one thing that I really did was look at different law firms and the Yelp review that they were getting, or just the Google review that they were getting, and I just made a list of all the things that clients were complaining about, like, what were common complaints. So I went, you know, I not just in LA, but California and other states, I would just what are clients complaining about. They were complaining about not being being able to talk to the attorney, or they were complaining about not enough updates about their case, that they would always have to call the attorney or the law office for an update. Just not being transparent. You know, these are the bad things that people were complaining about. I mean, firms do great jobs. But I was looking for how can we improve on what people are already doing really well. So I compiled a list, I compiled a list of these things. And I really wanted to hone in on fixing those mistakes, so that we can best serve the public. So I think that’s something that I really focused to differentiate us, from everybody else.

Matthew Laurin 6:55

That’s really brilliant, because it’s so simple. I mean, you just, you find out what people really, really need, you know, what, what are their pain points, like, obviously, everyone wants to be represented, and have a good attorney and maybe get, you know, some wrongs righted. But, but then there’s a little things too, about communication and knowing what’s going on. And, and yeah, that’s, that’s, you know, mining that information. Those are good stuff. And we’ve done that a lot in our own work, too.

Lem Garcia 7:23

Yeah, is huge. I mean, it’s the voice that people really expressing their concerns, and how things can be different and how things can improve. And the information is just out there. And, like you said, just just mining it, and then correcting it, so that, you know, we can do a better job than everybody else. And and, you know, give that service to the public?

Matthew Laurin 7:43

Yeah. You mentioned, you know, reading reviews and testimonials along those lines, how do you leverage successful client relationships? So you have people that that had a good experience with you? How do you leverage that in your brand strategy and in your marketing.

Lem Garcia 8:00

So I think just from day one, what’s really important for us is to always know that we want to have a happy client at the end, so that they’re best served, but also at the end of their case, they’re, they’re happy to refer their family and friends to us, they’re happy to leave a review online for us. And then if, if the unfortunate habit to get into another accident, they’re they’re happy to come back to us, you know, for help. What we do to leverage any kind of relationship that we have is to, like if they leave a review online, it’s really important to make sure that you know, you’re not scared to, to share that on social media and yourself, just get a review, and then repackage it and put it on all the different platforms that are out there. Instagram and Facebook. Google My Business, just anywhere where you can let the public know that you’re helping people out, just put that back out there. Like Don’t be scared to, you know, to your own horn. Because if you’re scared to do that, people might not know how much you’re helping other people like you, you have to promote yourself, you have to get the attention. And you have to put yourself out there because the public or you know, clients will do it. But then there has to be that extra push behind it to make sure that people know that you’re doing a great job.

Matthew Laurin 9:30

Do you think that attorneys are sort of averse to doing that, like say they get the reviews? But are they? Do they just not think about that? Are they sort of averse to sharing that information and public forums?

Lem Garcia 9:43

You know, I think probably the though the older, more experienced set of attorneys are not as willing to do that. I think that might be you know, an old framework that they would use In the past, like, well, you just do good work, and then people will know and come to you, which is very true. But then you have to give that an extra boost like people, not only will they refer to you, but then they’ll also leave a review. And then you can do that review and let even more people know, like, it’s just putting gasoline on the fire versus if you just help one person in the you know, hopefully they talk to their family. So, but I think the younger set of attorneys, you know, the ones that are just starting off their office, and they’re more familiar with social media and entrepreneurship, I think those attorneys are very ready, willing and able to share their reviews with with the world.

Matthew Laurin 10:44

I hear you. Lem during your journey for building the brand that you are running now. Were there any missteps that you had, that you wish you could have done over?

Lem Garcia 10:55

As far as just the office mistakes?

Matthew Laurin 10:57

I mean, I as far as as far as building a brand strategy or building, you know, what the firm the the the image that the firm has today? Is there anything that you you did in the past, you’re like, man, I really wish I would have done it differently.

Lem Garcia 11:08

You know, it’s hard to say a mistake. I mean, there there are things that I wish I could have done better. I mean, is it a mistake to to build a website on your own? You know, this is what I did I build a website on my own. I, you know, I just went on Squarespace. And I said, I’m gonna figure this out, and I’m gonna figure out SEO, yeah, I’m gonna create a bunch of content, you know, this back in 2014, Google was much different. And I just said, I’m gonna put a bunch of content out there. And I think that’ll work for SEO. Um, was that a mistake? I mean, it worked. Do I wish I could have hired somebody back then? Absolutely. Right. But I didn’t have the money. Like I didn’t, you know, the money wasn’t there. So I wish I, I probably, you know, would have been a lot better in the beginning, if I had someone that, you know, does that for a living a professional job on the website? And then, you know, professional SEO, I think that would have helped out tremendously. But you know, the resources just, you know, they weren’t there. Sure. Yeah.

Matthew Laurin 12:08

Well, in what about in like, you know, personnel for your firm or other types of business decisions? Any anything there where you’re like, I think this would be good advice for somebody starting out on their own firm to to avoid?

Lem Garcia 12:22

Yes. So I mean, I think I still have this problem is, is you have to know when to let somebody go. And you have not only yet to know, but you got to do it. Right? Yeah. There’s one thing of knowing like, Oh, you know, this person isn’t doing good job. It’s affecting everybody else’s work. But then you have to be willing to take that step and say, Hey, you know, we don’t think it’s a fit. We wish you the best of luck, you know, good luck to you in the future. That is something I think, you know, was a mistake in the past, because if you have someone in your office that isn’t meeting your expectations, or brings a bad attitude, I mean, those things just from one person that one person can can really become a cancer not

Matthew Laurin 13:19

Yes, agree totally

Lem Garcia 13:20

that cancer spreads, right? And then once it spreads, like if you get rid of that one person, like there’s still that effect, right? with other people that are there. So I think that’s a mistake that you know, I wish I could have corrected before I just you know, it’s it’s hard it’s hard it’s really hard You know, they’re relying on you and the paycheck to pay for their car, their apartment, you know, whatever situation they’re in, they’re relying on you and then you’re just gonna you know, let them go maybe you know, give them two weeks pay and then it’s like you know, good luck finding a job it is it tough I mean, that’s that’s the first part II can’t you know, I wish I could be I don’t know more cutthroat about that, but it’s just, it’s not in my nature is that that

Matthew Laurin 14:13

that advice is like gold because I haven’t met a business owner yet who is like, Oh, it was easy to let them go or it was easy to like ask people when I need to. We are an EOS agency and one of the principles in that is knowing where you have the right people right seat. So sometimes you have the right person and they’re in the wrong seat. Sometimes you have the right person that is in the wrong seat and then sometimes you just have wrong person wrong seat they don’t they don’t have a place in the organization and I totally agree if it I’ve seen people struggle with that before and let it go on and on and on. And it is like a cancer it just sort of it gets harder not only because you let it continue for so long, but But yeah, can destroy other parts of the business. So that’s that’s really great advice.

Lem Garcia 15:00

Yeah, it just it reminds me of that movie, you know, with George Clooney. I forgot what it’s called. But he you know, he gets hired to fire people. And I know when I watched that movie before, it’s like, oh, it’s not so hard to, you know, before I was a business owner, I thought it’d be easy to fire people. I don’t no big deal. But yeah. And then I’m here. It’s like, Oh, yeah, it’s really hard.

Matthew Laurin 15:18

Yeah, it gets really personal. So, yeah, great, great advice there. How does community outreach play into your law firm brand strategy? I noticed some some stuff in your profiles online and on your website about community outreach?

Lem Garcia 15:32

Yeah, I think it comes easy for me community outreach, and I know how important it is, especially because, you know, my main office is in West Covina. And you know, I’ve lived in West Covina my entire life. So I that’s why i open here is because, you know, I already know people here, I know, the community. And I know, just the culture of the city, right. And when people come to me, there’s already that familiarity. Like, we’re from the same city in the oval. And we’re very similar, like we met, we’ve never met before, but the fact that we’re in the same city, you know, there’s, there’s just a vibe that we know that we’re like one another, and I think it’s important to make sure that you reach out to the community around you. Because most people want to have a lawyer that is close by to them, and they want to have a lawyer that is like them, like comes from the same places then because you know, they can relate? Yes, so we make it a point to reach out to the community. I mean, I already have, you know, family and friends here, people from still from high school around their families around. But we make it a point to to get out there. And really just make sure that the community knows that that we’re here to help everybody out.

Matthew Laurin 16:55

And I’m assuming you’ve gotten some some good response from that. Whether it be in media or just even just personal communication from the community about how they feel.

Lem Garcia 17:05

Oh, yeah, tremendously. I go out. And people recognize me, they’re like, Oh, you know, you helped out my friend or you helped out my family member. Oh, I saw your you know, I saw your banner at the high school football field. I saw you run on the local 10k. I saw your booth at the 10k. I see your local ads that you run online. Yeah. It just keep on seeing my face. They see the logo. And it just with that it already, you know breeds that familiarity and and that trust that people need to that client the trust that clients need to have before signing on?

Matthew Laurin 17:47

Yeah. And you’re a pillar of the community. Right? Like, it ties people together.

Lem Garcia 17:52

Yeah, I mean, you want to say pillar I mean That’s that sounds great. Yeah.

Matthew Laurin 17:57

So you live and work in Southern California. Tell me who is going to take it all this year, the Lakers or the Clippers?

Lem Garcia 18:10

I want the Clippers to win they need one. When the Lakers have plenty Clippers, they need one. Come on.

Matthew Laurin 18:22

So I bring it up because you were team photographer for the Clippers.

Lem Garcia 18:27

Yeah, I was a team photographer for the Clippers. Back in the day, the 2005. They had a pretty good team, they made the playoffs second round. But I’ve been a fan of bowties my whole life and is only a problem now. They’re both really good. Yeah. How did it

Matthew Laurin 18:42

Tell me about that story? Did you? Were you into photography? or How did you how did you get that gig?

Lem Garcia 18:47

Yeah, no, I was I was working as a legal assistant in Pasadena or an attorney. And then yeah, my passion was photography. Like I love. I love what I still do. You know, I love taking pictures. And I was doing some side work, you know, event photography. And then I saw this post for, for photographer for the Clippers, and then I just, you know, send my resume, send some photos. And I practically begged them for the job. I told them like, I love the Clippers, I love photography. These are the two passions of my life coming together. And it’d be the dream job for me. I’ll do a great job for you. And whatever you want, whatever you need, I’m there for you. And because of that, they they called me in and they’re like, you know what, we love what you had to say we don’t meet many people like you. If you can do the work and quality is good. You got the job. So I got it.

Matthew Laurin 19:39

That’s so cool.

Lem Garcia 19:40

Yeah, yeah, it was great. It was a great time a great year. But yeah, it was fantastic.

Matthew Laurin 19:47

Just for the one year you did that for the Clippers.

Lem Garcia 19:49

Yeah, just that one year. I mean, they were in a drought for so long. I don’t know how many playoffs or they’ve won but they were in a draft for so long. So that was that was huge for the team like they invested Second round and they could have gotten to the Western Conference Finals. If they weren’t, you know, there were like a whole bunch of plays on in that series, but they should have kept

Matthew Laurin 20:07

you on board. You’re there. They’re lucky. Yeah. You’ve been listening to Lem Garcia Founder at Lem Garcia Law Lem, where can people go to learn more about your law firm?

Lem Garcia 20:19

You can visit the website at and if you want to talk to me or anybody at the office, you can dial hashtag 4Law if you’re in California and from your cell phone.

Matthew Laurin 20:32

Sweet. Thanks for being on the show Lem, I really appreciate it.

Lem Garcia 20:35

Thanks for having me.

Matthew Laurin 20:40

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.

How to get Operations and Lawyering Right When Starting a Law Firm

January 27, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Jim OwenJim Owen is the Founder of Koenig & Owen, LLC, a criminal defense law firm based in Columbus, Ohio. For more than a quarter-century, Jim has been involved in numerous criminal defense cases and won Ohio’s first death penalty acquittal after the state reinstated executions. He has represented judges, members of Congress, professional athletes, and rappers. He has an impressive record of winning acquittals in felony jury trials and serving justice for those who have been wrongfully imprisoned.

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

  • Who is Jim Owen?
  • The caliber of clients Jim represents.
  • Why Jim decided to start his law firm and how he got it off the ground.
  • Jim recalls the cases that were a launching pad for his career.
  • The one significant loss that shaped how Jim approaches his private practice.
  • What Jim wishes he did differently during the early days of running his firm.
  • What makes an excellent lawyer?

In this episode…

Here’s the hard truth: your new law firm is a business. Whether you’re operating solo from your home office or with a team in an office space, you want to get your operations and lawyering right early on. Jim Owen, the Founder of Koenig & Owen, LLC, wishes he nailed both aspects down in his firm’s early days.

While Jim turned out a great criminal defense lawyer, he was not as adept when it came to the business of law. Since the start of his practice, he’s learned what to do differently in operations—and became a better lawyer as a result.

Catch all the details of how to get operations and lawyering right when starting a law firm on this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin and Jim Owen, Founder of Koenig & Owen, LLC. Jim shares some of the big cases that shaped his career, what he wishes he did differently at first, the reasons behind his legal successes, and more.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Special Mentions:

Books Mentioned: 

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


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 lawyers from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing we help law firms generate more clients in cases using affordable and practical digital marketing strategies. And speaking of successful lawyers today, I had the pleasure of speaking with Jim Owen. Jim is Founder of Koenig & Owen, a criminal defense law firm based in Columbus, Ohio. For more than a quarter century, Jim has been involved in numerous criminal defense cases, and is credited with winning Ohio’s first death penalty acquittal after executions were reinstated. He’s represented judges, congressmen, professional athletes, rappers and has an impressive record winning acquittals in felony jury trials. Jim, it’s a pleasure to have you on the show.

Jim Owen

Thank you, Matt.

Matthew Laurin

That’s, that’s pretty cool. So you’ve run it you’ve represented rappers saw what it was there any well known rappers that you’ve brought?

Jim Owen

Well, I I currently represent a rapper who’s in Columbus, Ohio, who’s accused of participating in a criminal gang he Okay, currently has a pretty big recording, contract with some big names in music.

Matthew Laurin

That’s super interesting. Yeah, I got to admit, the first time I met you, and some of the things you were telling me about the people, you’ve represented that some you’re definitely one of the more interesting attorneys we’ve had on the show,

Jim Owen

represent anyone from homeless people to represented, was legal adviser to Ohio Secretary of State and 16 federal lawsuits, I’ve represented a congressman judges a lot of different people.

Matthew Laurin

That’s very cool. Very cool. So Jim, take me back to the beginning. When you when you started your law firm, what was that like for you?

Jim Owen

Well, I started in a relatively mid sized law firm and was very unsatisfied representing banks and insurance companies, and had had a hard time just getting any sustenance or even focusing enough to do the work and do it well. And I was appointed to a criminal case by a judge I know and was shocked initially about how unfair the system as how you get very little discovery, I could get sued by a department store and get all the discovery I want, and get charged for murder. And I don’t get anything, particularly back that and I was just really, really stunned. I kind of fell in love with it. We had no rules back when I started about who could represent an ended be appointed to represent an indigent person, even in a murder case or a death penalty case. So in 1985, a judge appointed me to represent a really famous person who is accused of killing a prominent Columbus business person and political figure. It was a candidate for city council at the time and on our transit authority. And some of the legal community was pretty outraged because it was only I only had two jury trials and criminal cases under my belt, very little experience. And I was scared to death. And I went out, did a neighborhood canvass and found some great witnesses that gave descriptions of the shooter that was very different than mine. Got a great alibi. At a jury trial, the jury was out for days. And it came back with a not guilty verdict as to all counts. That was in 1986. The jury started January 9, my birthday, I remember that forever. And it really gave me the bug. I should have never taken the appointment. It was outrageous that I was appointed in the first place. And it could have turned out very, very badly for the client. Yeah. But fortunately, I was so petrified that I worked my tail off day and night, for months before the case went to trial. And that really started my, my career. I’ve been a lawyer for seven years then. I’ve only been doing criminal defense for about 18 months. And so I got some recognition. A number of death penalty murder cases after that my clients were really lucky. I got several other acquittals completed collaterals I mean, most people and a death case, rightfully view it as a win if their client escapes the death penalty. Yeah. But we just litigated the heck out of the cases. And I was very lucky. So homicides kind of became the foundation of my small law firm.

Matthew Laurin

Okay, and then you went into private practice kind of right after that time, and

Jim Owen

well, I was in I, I left the I graduated from law school in 1979. I worked at a major law firm till 1983 for four years and became dissatisfied with representing the banks, insurance companies left in 83, and then got appointed to a criminal case in 84. And really, from 1984 to the present, all I’ve done is either criminal defense or I also have civil rights litigation arising out of people who’ve been wrongly convicted. Okay, okay. Then I, the the premier case, I represented two guys named Timothy Howard and Gary James. And they were tried, convicted and sentenced to death in 1977. For robbing a bank in Columbus, Ohio, and killing the security guard. Really, I got involved. 20 years later, this amazing man named James McCloskey is an ordained minister out of Princeton, New Jersey and ran an organization called century and ministries came to visit me and see and sought my help, in representing these two guys that he believed were innocent. That was a 20 years later, in 1997, after all, their appeals were exhausted. Jim and I spent four years pretty much every weekend re interviewing all the witnesses, I think proved on medicine beyond all doubt, on a successor, post conviction. Motion. Had a week long hearing, the judge found that the government cheated to get their conviction found by clear and convincing evidence that they were innocent. And granted a new trial. Nice government threw in the trial, but later we had a civil murder trial, we sued the state. And we had a jury find factual innocence. And we had a six member or an eight member jury they voted six to to find them factually innocent by the greater weight of the evidence.

Matthew Laurin

That’s very cool. So it seems like you got a lot of notoriety early on, and how are you able to parlay that into, you know, getting more more that type of business?

Jim Owen

Yeah, I really didn’t. I’m a failure as a businessman, at least recently, because I view our track record, in trial cases second to none, if not in Columbus in the state, maybe in the Midwest. I mean, we, we have a profile of acquittals and serious felony cases and big name cases that I think are is really unparalleled. And so the question becomes, how do you convert that to dollars and cents, and that it’s like the people that really win are the people that that focus on adding interesting content to their website, build links, get other people to nominate them for awards, you know, and they sit and meet at a coffee shop and nominate each other for this award or that award or the other award. And people that are really trying to focus on building a portfolio of big wins. 10 not the value that is as much as maybe they should if they wanted to support their family, the way their families deserve it. I mean, my wife says, Hey, when my husband’s in trial, the whole family’s in trial offer because you’re focused on your craft. And so your family deserves better. And if you’re really smart, you would think and try to if you can’t do it yourself, get the right team.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, you raise a good point there because, yeah, I mean, there’s like focusing on your craft and then there’s the whole actually practicing law and then there’s the The promotion of it right and wrong, and you don’t always have time for both. That’s totally true. What is I was reading some of the cases that you had on your site. What’s the craziest one you’ve ever had? That was just curious.

Jim Owen

Well, I’ve had a lot of crazy cases. But that first murder case I had. My client actually in the first trial tried to escape.

Matthew Laurin

I only I read that

Jim Owen

on almost gun down as he reached the elevator. We had this old deputy sheriff named Rufus who probably couldn’t have the side of a barn 18 feet with his gun, and he was holding it and my client by the elevator and said, stop her, I’ll shoot it, even though I was the other direction. And so he was in chat, we had a mistrial. He was retried. He was in shackles the whole time, the retrial. So that was kind of crazy.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, super crazy.

Jim Owen

The most memorable case I had, I lost, and some people would view it as a when it was a death penalty murder case, my client was sentenced to life. But he shot a person during a robbery with a sawn off shotgun. And I tried that co counsel with our current prosecuting attorney, Gary Tyack. I tried that in 1988. And we add an expert to show that the gun could fire without touching, let alone pulling the trigger. And so we put our expert on and the theory was that the gun went off accidentally, and we didn’t have felony murder in Ohio than purposely causing the death of another half a felony it was involuntary manslaughter. So our defense was involuntary manslaughter, the gun went off by accident. And we had our expert who was a gun expert from southern Ohio and had it off there. And I say, Can this gun fire and it had exposed hammers, but now pulling the trigger? And he said, Yes. And I had put blank shotgun shells in the gun. And I told the judge, but he must not have understood. So he’s been no burying the gun and all of a sudden POW. And everyone in the court ride for the table. And the judge is going crazy. The juries dive. And I’m, I can’t understand why the judge is so unbelievably upset. And he calls us up. And Gary Tyack here with me. And he says, well, didn’t Jim tell you that the gun was loaded? And so I didn’t know I had blanks. I didn’t know you had primers and those. So we had a long recess. And, and actually, it’s funny you ask. Our clients name is Michael Patterson. He called me yesterday from prison. He has 12. More years before his first parole hearing. He has an exemplary record. And I remember during preparing for mitigation or sentencing, I remember talking to his younger brother, who grew up in the slums of bombas, a place called winter terrorists. His name was Carlos. Carlos had two older sisters, both of whom had given birth before they turned 16. his oldest brother had died when he was shot while trying to rob a convenience store. His other brother was on trial for his life. His mother was dying of cancer. And his father had abandoned him when he was born. And I remember talking to him he’d never met anyone who had a job. And I remember thinking about what can society expect to happen to Carlos will Carlos end up like Michael? Yeah, I’m trying to keep in touch and he’s doing okay. doesn’t have a criminal record is employed. And it’s just kind of a fun, we’ll stick with me forever. Not just the gun going off in the courtroom, but the family and what it’s like For people, I mean, I feel many times I’ve had every opportunity known to man and taken advantage and none. And other people have had virtually no opportunity. And some of them succeed. And you wonder why? I assume it’s because there was some grandparents somewhere, or some relative that showed him a lot of love. And, but But anyway, that

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s a that’s unfortunate. Um, then I hear you too. Yeah. I mean, you know, you you, you see, the people that commit these crimes are you hear about it, you think, oh, man, but you don’t really think about, you know, the the environment that created them. So I noticed you had a ton of passion for representing indigent folks. And obviously, you know, some of the the family or the families of those people, was that a major driver for you to get into private practice and focus on criminal defense?

Jim Owen

It was because I couldn’t. It was before the internet. And I did, you were prohibited from soliciting business. And we were able to earn a living when I first got started. After I quit doing that, but doing a point in cases, I got my sustenance from representing people who I believe were convicted at NSF. And we’ve represented a number of people in post conviction hearings and federal habeas, and before the parole board, who we believe are innocent and mistakenly were convicted.

Matthew Laurin

And that’s sort of like the the one the organization I’ve heard about is the Innocence Project.

Jim Owen

Yeah, and we are working on a case now with a branch of the Innocence Project, this operates out of the University of Cincinnati law school. And we have a case, it’s going to a motion for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence, and then we have an evidentiary hearing at the end of March.

Matthew Laurin

I love those stories. And I mean, it’s, it’s, I cringe hearing about it, because I just don’t want to, you know, it sucks that people have to be wrongly convicted like that. But it’s neat to hear about organizations like that, and people like you who’ve worked really hard to, you know, open up some hope for people that are that are wrongly convicted. That’s really cool. Um, so a lot of our listeners are attorneys like yourself, who may be working for another law firm and thinking about going off on their own. Um, what’s something you wish you did in the beginning, when you started your private practice that that you didn’t do?

Jim Owen

Well, I wish I would have systematized the offense of criminal practice. I mean, right now we have a about a 10 page, felony case checklist that we go through to make sure that we don’t miss anything. Are there any motions we should have been filing? I mean, on occasion, I have a case and I realized, wow, I should have filed a motion to sever or I didn’t think about suppression with this piece of evidence, or I didn’t think about something. And or maybe there was an expert witness, I wish I would have retained early earlier. And so we now have a pretty comprehensive 10 page checklist. And my paralegal goes through when we get a case. And it starts, you know, with the basics with the client interview and checks for problems early on. And we also have a checklist for analyzing discovery, so that my time can be better used and focusing winsome Borden and discovery a manner.

Matthew Laurin

That is super cool. I know. I mean, the average person probably wouldn’t think much of that. But I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book, The Checklist Manifesto.

Jim Owen


Matthew Laurin

Yeah, we do that in our work. And I’ve heard of other people doing that. And you’re the first attorney I’ve heard. And there may be other people that do it. But you’re the first attorney. I’ve heard talk about doing a checklist like that, which is super cool, because you can. Yeah, I mean, you not only streamline everything, but then it makes your service much more.

Jim Owen

Well, you have a in Ohio on our criminal rolls, we have a deadline for filing pretrial motions of 35 days after arraignment. And some counties enforce that very strictly. Unless you file a motion before then explaining why you need more time. So and in the county, I primarily practice and routinely doesn’t enforce it unless you really wait till the last Last minute, but we found it really important to have a checklist and identify potential problems as early as possible. Yeah,

Matthew Laurin

it is a really smart.

Jim Owen

Sorry. Yeah. The other thing is, I don’t think I really understood what attributes you had to have to succeed at the when guilty verdict. So my whole view is that if you’re a client, and you want to hire a lawyer, the litmus test and being you know, have they won cases, and they won jury trials? So they come out with acquittals? Because if your lawyer hasn’t, how’s it going to negotiate a good resolve, even if you don’t go to trial, you know, the prosecutor knows you’re not going to try the case? What leverage do you have? And so what do you need to get those acquittal, and I don’t think when I started, I even really understood what they were

Matthew Laurin

as great advice, not only for not only for attorneys, but for people who are who are looking to hire attorneys, because I think a lot of people, no matter what lawyer they’re talking to, they just assume that an attorney is professional and good at their job and knows what to do, you know, like a doctor or a dentist or whatever, but they had no idea that there’s a spectrum of upskill.

Jim Owen

Right. So, you know, obviously, I thought, Well, you’ve just got to be knowledgeable and thorough. And if you’re knowledgeable and thorough, everything will come together. And certainly, if you do have to have a knowledge base, you have to know the elements of every crime that your clients charged with, you need to know common defenses. You need to know that people in the courthouse, the judges and prosecutors, there’s a lot of things you need to know you need to develop a great knowledge base, and that can be a foundation. So that’s kind of the first attribute I think about is the knowledge base that the second thing is our skill, you’ve got to have skill on selecting a jury and cross examining witnesses, and putting your own client on, and how to do it in a persuasive way. You’ve got to have skills and closing argument, there’s a whole host of skills, skills, and graphing pre trial motions, and jury instructions and jury instruction, kind of go with the knowledge base. And so that’s the second element I think about is are those skills. But the third thing is talent of lawyers got to be a talented storyteller, you have to have a theory of innocence, and really do a good job, a talented job of letting the jury know what the case is. And you need to believe in your case. People say Do you believe in your client I never believe or disbelieve my client or ns client. But I tell you one thing I sure as hell believe in my case, I have that, within a sense, I believe in that case with my heart and soul. And the jury from the time we go through jury selection through closing arguments sees the passion about that case, you know, I may not be slick, I’m not may not be shrewd. But they see the passion I have about my belief and my case. And that’s where the talent comes in. It’s different than skill talents and different concept and his skill. Are

Matthew Laurin

those skills that you mentioned, is that something that they that they teach you in law school? Or is that something that attorneys have to seek out afterwards?

Jim Owen

Now, you pretty much have to seek it out. I mean, I’m, my weak point has always been probably cross examination. And I had to learn that there’s a guy out there named Terry McCarthy, who I think is a retired Federal Public Defender has written one book on cross examination, another one on impeachment. There are other people that but I swear by Terry McCarthy, and he has 13 techniques of cross examination, and I take every witness and look at them and try to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work.

Matthew Laurin

That’s very interesting. So and do you work on those skills on a continuous basis, like always trying to hone them and get better as

Jim Owen

much as I wish I would. But I think the better lawyers do, we have a great lawyer in Columbus that I refer a lot of drunk driving cases to who’s constantly working on honing his skills. It’s amazing. Nice, nice.

Matthew Laurin

So if what is a book that you know someone new to private practice or just started thinking about going off on their own? What’s a book that you would recommend they they read any business books or or books related to the skills that you just talked about?

Jim Owen

You know, I, I don’t know, I would just go to as many sale is I mean, I I’m a believer in Terry McCarthy. I think and let me talk about the last element that I think you need to have to get that you got to have guts. Because, yeah, I had someone tell me once asked me what the difference definitely right the difference between a litigator and a criminal trial lawyer was and I didn’t know and he said a litigator is always prepared, but never ready. And chromo in a sense, lawyers are too often ready but never prepared. Hopefully want to be both you want to be prepared, which goes to those elements I talked about. And ready and be ready really takes guts, man, you got to be ready, willing and able to take it to the to the box to the jury. Yeah, a lot of a lot of guts. And I don’t know, need to be a junkyard dog. But man, you gotta have enough confidence to get out there and try your case.

Matthew Laurin

I can’t even imagine that’s that’s all great advice. Jim. You’ve been listening to Jim Owen, Founder of Koenig & Owen, Jim, where can people go to learn more about the firm?

Jim Owen

Well, as you can just google Koenig & Owen I’m sorry,

Matthew Laurin

I mispronounce that’s okay.

Jim Owen

Or is, which is too long of a URL. But I got it decades ago when having keywords in your your URL mattered. So And our phone numbers there. And I’m willing to help anyone, however I can.

Matthew Laurin

That’s awesome. Jim, I really appreciate you taking the time to be on the show.

Jim Owen

And I would encourage everyone to to focus on the business aspects more than perhaps I did, and then turning and determining how they’re going to get their clients and what kind of client they want and what they need to do to have a successful business.

Matthew Laurin

Great advice. Great advice.


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.

What to Expect in the Early Days of Starting a Law Firm

January 22, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Phil Andonian Phil Andonian is a Member and Co-Founder of Caleb Andonian PLLC. Phil’s practice is dedicated to representing individuals facing criminal prosecution or government investigation, as well as working on employment and personal injury matters.

Before co-founding Caleb Andonian PLLC, Phil was Of Counsel at one of the country’s leading labor and employment firms, Bredhoff & Kaiser PLLC, where he represented local and international unions in all manners of litigation at the local, state, and federal levels.

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

  • Who is Phil Andonian?
  • Why Phil decided to go out on is own and launch Caleb Andonian PLLC
  • How Phil cut his teeth in the business of law
  • What to expect from a significant shift in your practice area
  • Why new lawyers still struggle with starting and running their firm
  • Should you start a new practice—and what should you expect?

In this episode…

Do you know what to expect during the early days of starting your law firm? Whether you’re riding solo or with a partner, one thing is for sure: you’ll be doing less lawyering and business legwork. Well, business development, that is, according to Phil Andonian, Member and Co-Founder at Caleb Andonian PLLC.

So what does that mean for you if you’re about to give up your steady paycheck and benefits to start your law firm? And, most importantly, what should you expect?

Listen to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin as he chats with Phil Andonian, Member and Co-Founder at Caleb Andonian PLLC. They talk about the process of starting a new law firm, what to expect from a significant shift in your practice area, who should be starting a law firm, and what to expect in the early days.

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


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 attorneys from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing, we help law firms generate more clients in cases using digital marketing. And speaking of successful lawyers, today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Phil Andonian, Co-founder of Caleb Andonian PLLC. Phil’s practice is dedicated to representing individuals in criminal defense, employment and Personal Injury matters. Prior to co-founding Caleb Andonian, Phil was up counsel at one of the country’s leading labor and employment firms located in DC, where he represented local and international unions in all manners of litigation at the local state and federal levels. Phil, welcome to the show.

Phil Andonian

Thanks for having me, Matt. Great.

Matthew Laurin

No problem. So yeah, let’s jump right in. I usually ask this question of a lot of my guests because our audience is, you know, solo law firms and small law firms and business advice. Marketing advice is always helpful, and, and also just the driver behind why you started your firm. So why did you decide to go off on your own?

Phil Andonian

Well, I think I decided 2020 wasn’t tumultuous enough to wanted to be sad, like losing a stable income and benefits. No, I, you know, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time. And I’ve always been really lucky to be working in places in offices that I love, but people that are pretty indifferent that I’d love to start my current firm. But I think I’ve always, sometimes deep down and sometimes not. So deep down just really, really needed independence and the ability to kind of like, you know, not just make my own decisions, but cases take my own decisions, that kind of management. Practice, I think I just function better, I think better, I work better. I know, driving, safety net, to just assume is going to catch me. So, you know, I I do think that was probably something about, you know, the pandemic, and just kind of being locked out. And, you know, kind of interesting confrontation with mortality. Yeah, I think it just felt like the right time. And, you know, my wife is really supportive. And, you know, I think she could see it brewing and kind of give me so that, you know, the reactor.

Matthew Laurin

Nice, nice. Yeah, I noticed you’re a public defender for a number of years. And so back during that time, was it always the plan sort of to evolve and go off on your own eventually, after you kind of got some experience on your belt?

Phil Andonian

I think it was not necessarily something I had thought explicitly about back then. It’s been a while. But I definitely think that experiences is a lot of what molded you know, or formed my kind of legal personality that led to this because, you know, we were, we were really kind of autonomous, even in an office, I think there is a lot of value put on kind of like taking initiative and being creative. And, you know, we all have our own pieces, even though collaborated and even have supervision at the end of the day, like we’re the ones that are trying. So I definitely, I think got a taste for that kind of freedom that, you know, I’m open, you know, I, hopefully, this adventure kind of produces more of, and, and certainly, you know, the skills that I’ve learned there are what I feel kind of comfortable with in terms of like a foundation to do this. So it was definitely a big word.

Matthew Laurin

I hear I hear you. I hear that a lot from attorneys about the business aspect. And then actually, that the practice of law, and so they don’t really teach you a lot about the business aspect of things in law school. Was it what were some resources that you found helpful for learning about that?

Phil Andonian

Yeah, now I keep dragging with my partner. Like, I can’t wait to actually start practicing law. So far, we’ve spent approximately 7000 hours on like, business and startup stuff.

Matthew Laurin

After invoicing and employment stuff and building websites you’ll start right Yeah, right.

Phil Andonian

Exactly. three in the morning. Um, you know, I there are a lot of really, really great resources. I know Lawyerist is the site that I went to, that’s actually how I how I found out about you Because they were very kind of like one of their highly recommended or whatever it is so Okay, yeah, that was great. And yeah, they had a bunch of other really good primers on, you know, just billing and you know, firm setup and all that. And then, you know, I, it was that in talking to a lot of people and just kind of like worrying about all the different things and kind of figuring out the way others have dealt with it. But honestly, much of it, it’s just been videoed, and we’re doing it now. And half of what I thought I was all planned for is completely gone out the window. And you know, the rest of it is stuff I hadn’t even thought about. Yeah.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, you raise a good point. It’s kind of getting in there and doing it. I know, with I mean, any business, I’ve been involved in other businesses too. And yeah, sometimes you just can’t figure it out until you’re actually doing it and feel the pain of making a mistake or, or encountering some challenges that you have to overcome.

Phil Andonian

Totally. Right. That’s exactly right.

Matthew Laurin

So if you had to go back to the beginning of when you started practicing law, what’s one past failure or mistake that you experienced? That kind of led you to future success?

Phil Andonian

Oh, my God. I mean, if I had to pick a failure, I, you know, I guess I would, I think it’s not so much one failure so much as it is just a, maybe a mindset that I would have done, I would have had that was different, I think I tended to be very clear, what was in front of me kind of like, Well, I was a public defender, I was just, everything was trial law, and everything was stand up on our feet, but you know, lawyering it so I really kind of threw myself into that. And I, you know, really kind of turned, you know, my nose down at writing and just anything that wasn’t like real kind of combat trial lawyer in the courtroom. And I, you know, and then and then the last 10 years, I’ve been in a firm that, you know, it’s in the civil world, it’s just a very different life. And, you know, you’re not very writing intensive and very research intensive. And, you know, I definitely struggled a lot with that, because I it was like, a complete shift in attitude about what the law what sin what, yeah, how I could function as a practitioner. And I, you know, I feel grateful for my former colleagues, who really, really kind of helped me grow in that regard a lot through a lot of patience, and kind of advice. But, you know, I, I definitely think that the transition could have been made a lot easier if I had just kind of like, looked at the bigger picture earlier on and understood better or had bargain appreciation for how it’s all kind of part of it, even if I’m working on specific skills. So thankfully, I did go to this firm, and I now feel like I’m a pretty well rounded lawyer, but it did not come easily.

Matthew Laurin

That’s good. That’s good advice. I mean, yeah, it’s hard to look out past your own surroundings and kind of forecast for the future of what you want to do. I noticed on your profile, that you’re a faculty member at Harvard. And so and you still teach there?

Phil Andonian

Yeah, I do. It’s a yearly, I mean, this year got interrupted because it COVID but it’s an annual workshop that they put on, it’s a free course, precursor to one of their clinics. We go up every year, and we you know, it’s kind of like go through mock trial Foundation, you know, evidence.

Matthew Laurin

Very cool. So it we’ve been speaking with the students there, do you ever have a chance to sort of prime them or prepare them for what it might be like to run their own law firms later? Or if they’re like, sort of thinking about that?

Phil Andonian

Yeah. So I have not since, you know, if we’re up and running again in the fall, which question if that if that happens, this will be the first year that I will be there we as you know, as

Matthew Laurin

tall as owning your own or

Phil Andonian

actually, you know, having really seriously contemplated declines? And I would imagine, I’ll have a lot to say about it. I mean, I, I do a lot of other trainings. And I did one recently, a couple people reached out to ask specifically about my, you know, how the transition did my own practices. So it seems like something that

Matthew Laurin

you’ll learn some valuable insights.

Phil Andonian

Yeah. And I was telling one of them yeah, this is a great time because I’m like, really overwhelmed with everything and it’s probably a much better window and like experiences like five years from now, but hopefully I’m with you back laughing. Yeah, like oh my God, let me do that.

Matthew Laurin

always curious, like during law school, even for yourself like is that usually an ambition of law students to eventually own their own firm or people scared to do that?

Phil Andonian

Yeah, you know, I it was not something that I I felt was really an idea that was pushed in my in my law school and I, I would feel pretty comfortable guessing it’s probably the case everywhere and maybe even more so that it’s not a kind of prevailing idea it really big top tier law schools I mean, like Harvard, I mean, the caliber of students there, it’s like, you know, every everybody is either going to an am law 100 firm running for office working for an administration. Sure, yeah. So it’s not, I think you hit on a really good point that even if it if it were something that were kind of openly talked about, there, for sure, was not one bit of any kind of practical kind of business side operation side training, or anything that I was appearing to be. So I don’t I don’t even know how, if one, were thinking about it, they would do it without really doing a lot of work on their own. Sure. And yeah, sure, would be nice if that were the case, because, you know, I feel like there’s a lot of people like me feel like, maybe they’re better not necessarily having to work for others. And yeah,

Matthew Laurin

and you point out a good point earlier about, you know, the resources like lawyers or you know, other online resources or other attorneys even that have done it. network with those people to try to figure out what you need to do to be successful. Yeah, rituals for success, I always like to ask this of our of our guests, what’s something you do on a routine basis, whether it’s daily or weekly to help you kind of focus focus on your, your long term goals?

Phil Andonian

You mean, like, perfect, like any, like, personal,

Matthew Laurin

personal professional death, and that keeps you centered and focused? Well,

Phil Andonian

I mean, you know, a big, big part of my life was, you know, kind of daily going to the gym and kind of really working out hard for a couple of hours, and that that’s actually been a real boss with, you know, with the pandemic. Yeah, I am not somebody that easily self motivates. Unless I have to get up, go to a gym. Yeah, and like, you know, there’s equipment I can use. So that that actually kind of really took a big chunk of my, of my focus out of it. But, you know, I still try to do that. I actually, recently, I began to say my wife is the most supportive person on earth. Not only sponsoring this move, but you know, I few months ago, got a motorcycle for the first time, I spent my life a Harley, no less. And so I’ve actually been really nice, just going out on long rides, and just yeah. And that’s it. That’s been oddly meditative. And so in a way that’s starting to reclaim some of the, the kind of mind clearing the gym used to do for me, so hopefully, that’ll that’ll tide me every time. That’s great.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, and that’s good, you know, advice for anyone is just find something that you can detach with.

Phil Andonian

Yeah, I mean, I really, that breather is so important, because I at least for me, I’m not somebody who can just go non stop with no kind of downtime and still function. Well. So

Matthew Laurin

yeah, I don’t know anybody that is. So so you’re kind of in the thick of it right now starting your own firm. So your advice on this would probably be the best, what’s something you’d tell an attorney thinking of getting into your position? Maybe they’re at a firm, they’re getting a solid paycheck and benefits? And what would you? What kind of advice would you give them that they’re thinking about going off on their own?

Phil Andonian

I guess the, the big kind of top line lessons or ideas that are becoming, you know, evident. And I think they were obvious to me to be a bit but, you know, the, the, the business side of the operation side, which I which I’m including, you know, like business development and kind of like, network building it. Yeah, really, it can’t overstate how much time that takes, and how much you really have to want to be doing that, and how, you know, like, I think it’s probably totally possible to start a law firm if you really would rather not. But I’m definitely finding that, you know, the way that we’re growing and the ways that we, you know, consistent with how we want to, or because we’re, my partner and I are really kind of like taking the entrepreneurial part of it seriously, but it’s a lot of work. And, you know, I guess the other the other thing is, is to to really be again, self evident to me, but you know, you never know what relationship you’ve made or what contact you’ve made is going to end up being important or useful and helpful, and so on. I I definitely for not not because I thought I was gonna sort of firm it, I think more so because it’s in my nature, I just tend to get along with people and I try not to, you know, jerk unless I have to. And as a result, you know, I’d like to think that I have a network of, you know, people and acquaintances and colleagues that think something of me, that’s not bad. And, you know, I’m definitely seeing a lot of, you know, and again, it’s not like using my context, but just the support and just kind of having a lot of people, you know, just kind of pop up, you know, when I’m least expecting it and have something helpful to say, or have a referral or whatever it might be. So, you know, really just being mindful of how how easy it is to, you know, really hurt yourself, if you if you alienate yourself and how, you know, overall, nice it is to just have a community.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah, networks, networking is so important with finding a job starting a business. Yeah, I mean, you never really realized how crucial it is,

Phil Andonian

yesterday, like in the early stages of a startup, maybe that’s going to be a lot of like, the referral network is kind of a lot of, you know, kind of seed client. before you’re, you know, established yourself and

Matthew Laurin

to get some of the other firms I talked to, even if they’ve been, you know, at it for several years, referrals are still a huge part of the business that they’re generating. Right. So for Caleb Andonian, PLLC, where do you guys see yourself in the next five years, I’ve never really talked to someone like at this stage of starting a firm and so interesting to hear what your projections are,

Phil Andonian

yeah, you’re getting all the four weeks or four weeks in or five weeks into your bar, you know, I mean, our goal, I think, is on some level, we want to grow, especially growing with, you know, increasing work, I think we want to be busy and be able to be increasingly busy, which will then you know, naturally, you know, more staffing to a point where we’ve got, you know, a good amount of work. We have a couple of associates that we’re working with and, you know, staff paralegals, and you know, I don’t know that we necessarily see ourselves as wanting to manage, you know, mid sized law firm, although I don’t know so, you know, as small you know, but but formidable shop, I think is kind of what we’re looking to do, you know,

Matthew Laurin

gotcha, yeah. Mark my words, Caleb Andonian, PLLC is gonna be formidable in the next five years,

Phil Andonian

or will be a cautionary tale for

Matthew Laurin

benefits. You can show this podcast to students in your in law class. You’ve been listening to Phil Andonian, Co-founder of Caleb Andonian. PLLC. Phil, where can people go to learn more about your firm?

Phil Andonian

Great, thanks, man. Yeah, Our website is

Matthew Laurin

Nice. Thanks for being on the show, man. I really appreciate it.

Phil Andonian

Thanks a lot for having me Matt. I enjoyed it.


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.

Rituals to Grow Your Practice

January 7, 2021
By: Matthew Laurin

Katy-MickelsonKaty Mickelson is a Divorce and Family Law Attorney and Partner at Beermann LLP, one of the largest divorce and family law firms in Illinois. Katy has been practicing law for 15 years and has been named a “Rising Star” by Super Lawyers Magazine and a “Super Lawyer” for 2021.

She has also been recognized as one of the “Most Notable Women Attorneys” in 2018 by Crain’s New York’s Business, has been nominated by her peers as a “Leading Lawyer” since 2015 and one of Best Lawyers’ “Women of Influence” in 2017.

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

  • Who is Katy Mickelson?
  • How Katy started her career and grew to become an Equity Partner at Beermann LLP
  • Why a successful lawyer should also be a good marketer
  • Katy talks about the past mistakes that led to her success—so far
  • The rituals you should develop as a new attorney starting your practice
  • Katy’s best book recommendation for attorneys going into private practice

In this episode…

Marketing your law firm is a must if you want to grow your private practice. However, if you don’t have the right clients coming in through the door, your firm will struggle to grow. Why? According to Katy Mickelson, Partner at Beermann LLP, you’re only as good as your next client—and the reputation you leave with past clients.

So, how do you attract clients who are an excellent fit for you and your firm? Katy says it’s simple: this is where your rituals to grow your practice comes to play.

In this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin, you’ll hear from Katy Mickelson, Partner at Beermann LLP, as she talks about the rituals you should develop to grow your law practice. She shares why marketing is a must for lawyers, why the way you choose your clients defines your success, how to attract the right type of clients, 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


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 in cases using search marketing. And speaking of successful lawyers, today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Katy Mickelson, Partner at Beermann LLP, one of the largest divorce and family law firms in Illinois. Katy has been practicing law for the past 15 years and has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine and a Super Lawyer for 2021. She has also been recognized by Crain’s Media’s Most Notable Women Attorneys for 2018 had to get that out there and a leading lawyer from 2015 to present. Katy, welcome to the show.

Katy Mickelson

Thank you for having me.

Matthew Laurin

Take me back to the beginning. Katy, when you when you started working for for Beermann, what was it like?

Katy Mickelson

Well, so I, I would say that I started somewhat of the old fashioned way. So I started as a law clerk. I was in law school. It was around my between my second and my third year, pounding the pavement looking for law clerking positions, and I happened upon Beermann through mutual connection through my through a family member, and essentially went there and interviewed for a clerking position, right from law school. And so what I was offered was an opportunity to start there in the summer and be able to work with Family Law Attorneys, and we at that time, Beermann was more of a have multi disciplines within the firm. So insurance, defense business litigation.

Matthew Laurin

Gotcha, gotcha. So in the attorneys I talk to your story is sort of parallel. And then there are other stories where maybe they’ve worked for a law firm for a little bit, and then they go off on their own. Is that kind of how it went for you like, did you well, clerk at Beermann and then have an opportunity to become an equity partner? Yeah, so

Katy Mickelson

it’s, I think I referenced this because what was interesting is there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of lateral movement these days, a lot of people don’t stay in a law firm per se, for a long period of time. So when I started as a law clerk, I was hired as a contract attorney, then associate, then became a senior associate, then became a junior partner, income partner, and eventually made my way up to being an equity partner. So it was a 15 year process of sweat equity, going, you know, doing putting in my hours, and kind of rising from being a law clerk all the way to being an owner. So it’s pretty unique for my firm. I’m the only owner that started out as a law clerk. So it was certainly something that I wouldn’t say that a lot of attorneys normally go through that process, at least anymore.

Matthew Laurin

Okay, that’s very cool. It’s neat that you’ve been able to stay there for so long and then grow within that, within that organization, were you ever involved in the process of bringing new business into the firm are did ever started any point?

Katy Mickelson

It really started from the beginning. From my perspective, you know, you’re you’re good at what you do based upon your qualities as an attorney, but you never know when your next case is going to come in or when it’s going to stop. So for me, business development has always been the forefront of what I’ve done. So it’s been hammered into me since the beginning that I need to bring in cases that I need to be a good business developer. And that also stems from me having worked in a prior career, because I was aware of the business world I’m aware of, you know, client development and client relationships, and how important that is to gaining trust and then having future business with those clients. So that gave me a unique gift gave me unique insight and how to how to be not only a successful lawyer, but a successful business person.

Matthew Laurin

I saw that in your bio about your career change, and you were in PR before I

Katy Mickelson

was so prior to being a lawyer, I had somewhat of a a different a different pathway. So when I graduated college from the University of Michigan, I wanted to work in public relations marketing. My degree was in sociology, and I thought it would be fun. I decided I wouldn’t go into an agency. So for a period of seven years, I worked at a variety of agencies in Chicago, doing consumer, mostly consumer products, public relations, ended up in a very large worldwide agency model. A few years and was a group manager for that agency doing a whole lot of fun. I mean, media tours, product development, a lot of fun events and a lot of writing. And so that was my seven year career prior to leaving and going full time to law school.

Matthew Laurin

And I’m assuming that help you with like the business and marketing aspect of running a law firm, to kind of help prepare you for what that would be like.

Katy Mickelson

Yeah, and it’s part of it is, is running a law firm part of it is managing those who work for me and kind of really being able to read who works for me what their needs are, how do you encourage, you know, faithful employees really try to make the environment as pleasant as possible. Because ultimately, you’re only as good as the people that work with you. And it’s really, really important to create an environment where they want to come to work, and they want to work for you, you want to create that loyalty. So it all it all I think has has worked out with each other.

Matthew Laurin

That’s awesome. Um, can you tell me about a past failure or mistake that you had that led to your future success? So many,

Katy Mickelson

for attorneys who say that they don’t make mistakes, you should never you should never believe them or hire them. But um, you know, I think one of the hardest things about being a you know about about bringing in your own business and running your own cases is identifying when a client is not the right fit. And it’s, you know, you’re what’s very important in when you want to practice successfully is having clients that subscribe to the same philosophy that have, you know, that are confident in your skills, and are aligned in the strategy. And that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to agree with everything that you say, and it doesn’t mean necessarily agree with everything they say. But I had one particular experience with a client where my gut was telling me that this wasn’t the right fit. But I decided to stay in, I decided to stay in. And, you know, it was difficult because the client that this is the hard part, the client was paying me a lot of money. And you know, you don’t necessarily want to walk away from a client that pays you a lot of money. But one of my favorite expressions is that that client was taking up 80% of my brain space, not in a good way. And, you know, it’s what what really, it has taught me is, and I eventually withdrew from the case, and I think I woke up the next morning, just feeling a weight off my shoulders. And what it really has taught me is that we’re valuable, our work is valuable. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that every client is a fit, and is going to feel that same way.

Matthew Laurin

That’s so cool. I’ve never really had advice like that from a guest on the show. Because when you’re starting out, you’re starving. Right? And you will take any client. I mean, I’ve felt the same way in our agency, just taking anyone on. But yeah, like, if it’s someone that just sucks all your time, or sucks all your energy, or, like it says, not a good bit. And is it really worth having them on there? Even if they are paying you a lot of money? That’s great advice.

Katy Mickelson

Yeah, yeah. I mean, there’s only so much that you want to sell yourself for for

Matthew Laurin

free quote. Next question here, rituals for success. So what’s one practical thing that young attorneys just starting out should be doing every day or every week to kind of contribute towards their growth as a professional or the growth of their law

Katy Mickelson

firm, build relationships. So the the best thing that you can do is, you know, being a lawyer is not just about writing a good brief or arguing in court, until you have the trust of the individuals who are potentially going to hire you or refer you. You’re not going to go anywhere. I mean, you could be the most intelligent attorney in the world, but you’re only as good as your next client, and then the reputation that you leave with past clients. So what’s really important from my perspective, is constantly building that credibility in that relationship with the people that can be your mouthpieces. And if you don’t have that credibility, if you don’t have that support, and that’s based upon really sound, good relationships with people be built on trust and integrity, I don’t think that you’re going anywhere. So making it a priority to really have meaningful connections with people. That doesn’t mean joining a networking group and canvassing the room and trying to get business cards handed out. It really means creating meaningful, long standing, trusting relationships and that can be done as easily as just sending an email and then having a cup of coffee or doing anything that requires that discussion and connection with other people.

Matthew Laurin

I noticed in your bio, that you’re, you’re involved in a lot of women’s associations and other associations related to the legal industry. Is that was that your conduit to build relationships and network?

Katy Mickelson

Yeah, so I mean, there’s, there’s a couple different reasons why I do that one, it makes me feel more well rounded, right. So I, I don’t, well, I, I love what I do. And I find it really important to be a good lawyer and a credible lawyer, I think it’s the the, to make me a more well rounded person, I certainly want to be able to be involved in organizations that I’m really passionate about. But the second thing really is, is that, you know, I am involved in organizations, but I only do things where I’m all in. So I don’t join an organization just to be a member and add it to my resume or any, you know, add it to my experience, I’ll be a leader, I’ll organize and be, you know, make it so that I have, you know, the, the attention of those who are leading so whether it be the chair of a group, or leading a group of a business development group that’s really, really important to me, both as a professional and on a personal level,

Matthew Laurin

what is one book, you’d recommend every attorney going into private practice read for themselves.

Katy Mickelson

So I eat one of my new year’s resolutions, which we as individuals and human beings do New Year’s resolutions, but it is to read more, but what I’ve been doing is I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks, and I hadn’t really necessarily been doing business books, but I do you know, people enjoy them. And certainly, and I was referred to me to do to read a book or listen to a book by Chris Voss. He’s a former FBI, hostage negotiator. And he took all it’s called Never Split the Difference. And he took all of his skills that he learned in the psychology of meat of negotiation, and has applied it to business. And what you know, I have always subscribed to the philosophy of know what I know and know what I don’t know. And one of the things I’ve always tried to strive to be better at his negotiation because it’s one of the scariest things you never know, if you’re coming in too high, too low. You don’t want to have buyer’s remorse. So it’s what what’s been great about this book is it’s really taught you to look at the strategy behind it and to be able to come into any situation and be able to negotiate during Family Law. negotiation is fraught with emotion. So to have another skill, to be able to do it and really look at it from a business perspective, I think puts you leaps and bounds beyond other family law attorneys and other practitioners in general.

Matthew Laurin

A great book, I have not read it. I’ve heard about it. I know some of my mentors have read it and suggested I think I just made a note of it here. I think I’ll check that one out. But I like I said that it’s it gives you like an advantage, another perspective, which is pretty cool. Like not only in running your firm within. In working with your clients, it’s nice that you’re able to have a more well rounded perspective, like you mentioned with your other other activities as well. You’ve been listening to Katy Mickelson, Partner at Beermann LLP, Katy, where can people go to learn more about the law firm?

Katy Mickelson

I can be reached through a number of ways through my website and my email address, which is khMickelson. That’s m IC k e l s o n at I can also be reached directly at 312-621-4382. And I’m always happy to answer questions and help out people and assist them in this in this highly contested area of law.

Matthew Laurin

Thanks, Katy. Thanks for being on the show.

Katy Mickelson

Thank you.


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.

What You Deserve to Know Before Starting Your Law Firm

December 30, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

James FausoneJames Fausone is Managing Partner at Fausone Bohn, LLP, a law firm based in Northville, Michigan that specializes in business, Veterans’ disability, criminal defense, family law, and more.

In addition to running a busy law practice, Jim has participated on numerous civic boards, including the University of Michigan College of Engineering, Michigan Military and Veterans Hall of Honor, Center for Digital Engagement, and Schoolcraft College, among many others.

He and his wife, retired Brigadier General Carol Ann Fausone, also support many local veterans’ organizations and host the annual Veterans’ Summit for the Canton Community Foundation.

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

  • Who is James Fausone?
  • How James started his law practice.
  • The changes a small law firm should expect and welcome.
  • James shares the story behind his interest in veteran matters and why he started Legal Help for Veterans.
  • Things you can’t run away from if you are practicing law as a business.
  • James talks about one of the mistakes that translated into future success.
  • Morning rituals that’ll help you grow your law practice.
  • James’ advice to attorneys trying to start their law firm.

In this episode…

If you’re thinking about starting your law firm, the first thing you deserve to know is that your practice area is bound to evolve. And with that comes the need to stay nimble and be willing to do what law school didn’t teach you: practice law as a business. What more do you deserve to know before starting your firm?

Listen to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin as he chats with James Fausone, Managing Partner at Fausone Bohn, LLP. Their conversation touches on the different areas of starting and running a law practice, including the mistakes made, management tips to help you get ahead, marketing advice for your practice, and more.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Readings Mentioned: 

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


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 in cases using search marketing. And speaking of successful lawyers today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Jim Fausone. Jim is Managing Partner at Fausone Bohn, a law firm based in Northville, Michigan, and specializing in areas of business, Veterans’ disability, criminal and family law. In addition to running a busy law practice, Jim has participated on numerous civic boards, including the University of Michigan College of Engineering, Michigan Military, and Veterans Hall of Honor, Center for Digital Engagement and Schoolcraft College, among many others. He and his wife, retired Brigadier General Carol Ann Fausone , also supports many local veterans’ organizations. Jim, welcome to the show.

James Fausone

Hey, Matthew, good, good to be on. Good to kick this around a little bit with you.

Matthew Laurin

I was toying around with what accolades to put in there, you have so many listed on your website, it seems like you’re super active in the community.

James Fausone

Well, when you’re when you’ve been around for a long time, you get a chance to do a lot of things. So that’s a that’s a little bit of about longevity, I suppose. That’s awesome.

Matthew Laurin

So um, one basic question that I like to ask to all successful attorneys on the show is, how did you get started with your law practice? How did that go back in the beginning? Sure.

James Fausone

I actually have a civil engineering degree. What wasn’t planning on being a lawyer, my vision to be wife was in military and I went to law school on the GI Bill, having served myself and came back from Washington state to the state of Michigan, clerked for a judge then ended up at a large law firm and became a partner at that law firm. Was there maybe 1415 years and went to work for a client in house for a client was president of the company, it was a industrial and commercial waste, business hazardous waste business. So it was right up my environmental engineering background. Did that for a few years, and the owner of the company died unexpectedly of a heart attack, and found myself reevaluating what I was going to do next. And rather than go in back into a big law firm, which I could have done, after being out for three years, and having absolutely no clients, I decided to open up a law practice in the suburban Metro Detroit area, with a couple of guys I practiced with at the big law firm, and we thought we were opening up a boutique environmental law firm. And that’s how we started. That’s what the first letterhead says. But honestly, the marketplace really did take dictates what you’re going to do. And over time, we found that the clients that we were giving environmental advice to also wanted business advice, contract advice, then somebody needed divorce, custody advice, and then somebody Vice President got in trouble with drinking and driving, and we needed a criminal lawyer. So over time the practice evolved. And And in addition, we saw a decrease when I’ve been in practice in that firm now for 25 plus years, at Fausone Bohn. And we saw a change in how environmental manners got regulated. So there was a decreasing need for environmental lawyers. And we were not really no longer a boutique environmental firm. Although we do still a fair bit of environmental work, it expanded over time. And one of the areas that expanded in two was Veterans Disability because of our connections with the military. And so I like to tell lawyers that about every five years your practice is going to change in some way or another. You might be able to predict it, but you might not be able to predict it. And over 25 years, I would say the practice has changed five different times in different ways. Some anticipated some not so much.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah. And it also sounds like opportunities came along and you were able to recognize those when they did you know with different areas of practice and kind of capitalize on those as they came?

James Fausone

Absolutely. And that’s one of the things small law firm is able to do that a big law firm isn’t and that is to be nimble, and seize those opportunities when they arise. Now, you also have to be nimble. In your marketing and sort of change, maybe your flavor, certainly our very first website, you know, branded us as an environmental law firm. Well, we had to strip that off and change it around entirely as we added people and did things. So yeah, you grab those opportunities when they arise, and you have to be nimble enough to grab them. And you have to be nimble enough to recognize that you also need to be changing your approach marketing approach, because what happens is people who first found you doing just one thing, only think about you in that way. We still have people who go, I thought all you did was environmental law. And I still have business clients who go well, I didn’t know you did environmental law. Well, we were just so it’s really about how folks find you what they associate your name with. And as you move into new areas, you’ve got to be out there. Letting that only existing customers know, but others, that you now do something different. So it’s been interesting in that regard as well.

Matthew Laurin

That’s great. That’s great. I noticed that you’re extremely passionate about veterans matters. And you have the the other firm listed on your LinkedIn profile and you’re active in veterans groups. How did that come about? What’s the story behind all that?

James Fausone

So we set up legal help for veterans pllc as a practice group of Fausone Bohn about 17 or 18 years ago now, at that time, the VA didn’t allow attorneys really to charge for their work, helping veterans get their disability, because under the original theory, the federal government was there to help you. You didn’t need no stinking attorney to help you. And certainly what happened over time, and you know, 20 years ago, came pretty obvious that the regulations were so complex, the bureaucracy was so steep, that the veteran couldn’t figure it out themselves, they needed legal help. And they would, they would often turn to a veteran service organization like Disabled American Veterans or Paralyzed Veterans of America, or Veterans of Foreign Wars VFW and those groups got money from the federal government to help veterans with their disability claims. But they weren’t lawyers, they were they were other guys passionate about helping veterans. But if this was not going to be an adversarial process, you just needed somebody who had been through it before. But it became more adversarial became harder to do. In particularly, we’ve been right we’ve been in, or the Global War on Terror for 20 years now, from 911. And the injuries became more complex. Establishing the medical Nexus became more complex, complex. So we had people coming to us and say, I don’t get this, can you explain this to us, and we do a few of them pro bono here and there, and then the volume gets so big, once the reputation started to go, Well, I’m going to turn this into a real practice. And over over time, the federal government changed their approach a little bit recognising the need for lawyers in the system. So we were early in that game, and have built a sizable national practice as a result. Now, it helps that my I’ve got military experience and helps up my wife, retired nurse and Brigadier General. So she’s got a lot of experience. And some of the people we’ve put around us are, you know, licensed social workers and others who can really help on the harder cases, the lawyers don’t really get the easy cases, they stay with the Veteran Service Organization. This we’re not so we’re not talking about somebody who’s lost a limb. They never, they’ll never need a lawyer, they go route, you know, right through the system easily. We’re talking about the more complex issues medically complex, and we have a series of nurses and doctors who review records for us and write opinions for us nurse practitioners to help advance these claims. So it’s really grown over the almost 20 years now that we got in there because somebody has to help out. And this happens a lot with lawyers. First, we get asked to do it in pro bono, and you do a few of these. And then then you realize, wait a minute, there’s so much work here. I got to get paid on some of this because, again, staff that I got to pay.

Matthew Laurin

So that’s how a lot of great, great opportunity start, right, it’s just you you help out and then it turns into something else. You mentioned in your bio that you had started a lot of businesses. You know, throughout your career, how has that helped you in running a law firm?

James Fausone

Well, what they don’t teach you in law school is the practice of laws as a business. You, you, you start with having to be a really good lawyer, right? A lawyer, people can trust somebody that gets looked up to and respected. That’s how that’s how you get word of mouth clients, one one person at a time. But, but really in the end, a law firm as a business, whether it’s cash flow or payroll or applying the COVID issues, to your employees, all that does then translate to advising businesses, small businesses, and so a lot of times, self, my partners, we’re advising businesses, and we’re going through or have gone through some of those same experiences. A good one, at the moment would be federal protection plans. Yes, you take the money in the spring of 2020. What’s gonna happen on the tech side in 2021? Well, it changed the login. So again, being understanding that the legal practice, as soon as you go from one lawyer to to, from one staff, person to two, you’re in business, when it’s just you, and maybe it’s you and one person, and maybe it’s a micro business, but you know, you don’t touch a lot of these issues. But as soon as you start adding staff, adding some complexity, that’s where you’re gonna run, you’re gonna feel like you’re in business and go, Hey, wait a minute, I didn’t edit Teach me this in law school. Maybe I never even took an accounting degree accounting class, you’ll feel that maybe maybe it should have. Yeah, and

Matthew Laurin

I hear that a lot with with some of the attorneys that I talked to, as they I mean, there’s obviously the marketing and sales aspect of it. But the only other business processes you don’t really think about in in law school, and they don’t teach you about obviously, too.

James Fausone

Well, you bring up a good point, again, most lawyers will tell you, I don’t want to be a salesperson. Yeah, I want to be a sales, I’ve gone into X, Y or Z in sales. It’s not my interest. But what we’re all selling something some way somehow, it may not be the classic salesman approach. But again, if nobody knows what you do, and nobody has an understanding of the quality that you’re doing in that, then you’re probably not meeting your potential. So it’s really important to get out there. And explain yourself, tell a story, inform people, whatever language you’d like to put around it. That’s the sales aspect of practicing law.

Matthew Laurin

Great advice. Great advice. Jim, as you look back in your career, what is one failure or mistake, that translated to your future success?

James Fausone

there’s a there’s an interesting question. I think I think we, we all have client failures that we have to build on, you know, we don’t meet expectations, maybe maybe we, we don’t have the right skill set. And maybe we don’t have the time to devote to a particular project. And I think every time you do that, and you fail, or you don’t live up to your own expected expectations, which should be pretty high. It gives you an opportunity to reflect and say, well, when this comes around, again, I’m going to do X. So when we were a small law firm, right now, I’ve got about 15 lawyers and the total compliment of staff of maybe 42. When we were a small law firm, we have the opportunity to get involved in a big piece of litigation. That was right up our niche because of our environmental expertise. But but we didn’t have the ability to manage the documents maybe the right way. And so it really forced us into reflecting on what technology we needed, and what other relationships we needed. We ended up early on adapting scanning for all our mail and all our documents that fade stamping everything so you can find it when a lot of firms were still staying in paper that gave us an edge up. And we also work with legal services providers who had not only contract lawyers in the United States, but over in India. So we do these massive projects that we could we didn’t have the staff to get to, but we could turn them over to our subcontractors to plow through that and in a timely fashion and financially affordable fashion for the client to handle those sorts of things. So I think failing to be able to do it. The first time allowed us to second time around but we know what we need. And we don’t have any internally and how do we how do we outsource this in a way? That makes it all work?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, failure is the best teachers. And

James Fausone

it does. It hurts, but it does teach you.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah. Um, so I’m a big believer in rituals for success, whether it’s, you know, something, my common one is, you swallow that you eat the frog every morning, you wake up, and the first thing you do is something challenging. So the rest of the day is hard. What is one thing that you would recommend young attorneys do on a regular basis, whether it’s daily or weekly, to help them grow a law practice?

James Fausone

Well, I probably have a difficult time just picking one because I’ve got numerous morning rituals that make make the day and then the week go along, but certainly one of them is the days to do list I am a to do list guy. Tell me tell me what I got to do. First thing I do every morning is make sure I’ve got it all written down, prioritize and attacking me to

Matthew Laurin

here’s here’s my to do list. Yeah.

James Fausone

I left mine in the other room. But But if you do give you put it together and you prioritize it, part of what it does is, many of us will choose the simplest thing to do, or the easiest thing to do, maybe not the hardest thing to do. So So I try to make sure particularly I’m a morning guy, so you know, I’m freshest in the morning. The people aren’t lining up at my door asking me questions or interrupting me so so I try to get that hard thing done. First thing in the morning. That’s the other piece of advice, because we’re really talking to lawyers here who are business owners. I also try to daily, take a quick look at my financial position. So I’m looking at the bank accounts and seeing what’s coming in what’s going out. Too many people say, Well, I only touch it once, once a once a month I you know, record, maybe I can reconcile the checkbook once but no, no, no, I you get half of this. And he can in and honestly, that’s advice I give to business owners when they’re starting out. They’re busy doing out in the field doing whatever it is they do to make a buck. But if you’re not paying attention to those spikes, when they either come in the door, or you’re billing and not receiving, you’re gonna find yourself in problems. So recognize it is a business, you have to put a little bit of time into the business every day to advance and and I think that’s something I’d recommend to people, people as well. You can do a deeper dive once a month, or once a week, I do a deeper dive every Saturday morning, pull up the QuickBooks off the accounting software, see what my office managers done and so that I know where it is, but daily do a little something that advances the business side, not just the legal side of the business.

Matthew Laurin

That’s great advice. Um, what piece of what are what tips would you give to an attorney thinking of starting their own law firm other than other than those ones you just mentioned, if there’s somebody who’s working at a bigger firm, maybe they’re thinking of breaking away.

James Fausone

So you have to be able to take the risk, right? When when I made this decision, it was sort of forced on me because I made the one decision to leave the practice of law and the guy I’m buying the stock from and taking the company over dies and who’s the state gets in and you know, I can either stick around and deal with that craziness or go start to practice a lot. As I said, I didn’t have a client at the time, because I’ve been out of the practice three years. So you have to be able to take a risk that obviously not everybody’s cut out, to be a business owner to be via, to run a law firm. You have to be able to take that risk. I tell this to business clients, but it’s applicable here to a law firm owner, one side of your brain is going to say, this is gonna be great. This is the best opportunity in the world. I can control my own world. This is I’m gonna you know this, I’m gonna get rewarded for what I do. The other side of your brain is going this is utterly ridiculous, you’re gonna fail, you’re gonna bankrupt you’re gonna embarrass yourself, you’re gonna lose your home. What you hope is those two sides aren’t doing it at 2am so that you can sleep. But you have to be a little skips a frantic and not everybody can handle both of those. They can’t really they can’t manage compartmentalize, put it out of your head. But if you can, it’s extremely rewarding. It’s been it’s been great for us something I I didn’t start out in this direction. Didn’t expect to be here 25 years later. You know, we’re from a financial standpoint, we’re doing better than anybody could have imagined. Even if I had stayed with the big firm, doing way better than my peers would have done from an ability to be involved. in the community, when you run your own firm, you get to be involved. You said, well, geez, Jim, you’re pretty busy guy, you’re involved in all these civic things. Those are things I want to be involved in. And I’m allowed to be involved in because I’m in a small business, I’m in a small law practice. We can control our own fate. We can say this is important to do. And nobody tells you, you can’t. So whether it’s I’ve got a partner who coaches, high school football, what he does every August through through November, depending on playoffs, it’s been doing it for 20 years. It’s, you know, sort of family coaching in the firm it probably in that order. That, that that’s what defines him, I have another guy who’s a motorcycle rider and he’s got a ride every week. Otherwise, it he’s just, it’s just that him and his life isn’t balanced, right? He’d never be able to do that in a big firm or somebody was dictating other things, too. And honestly, he finds more clients riding bikes with a bunch of guys than you’d ever imagine. Because those guys riding motorcycles are business owners and veterans and people who have real life problems. So I encourage people to you know, if you can manage the risk, if your head will let you do that, you got to have some financial cushion, you got to have backing by the family support for it because they’ll be lean times or absolutely will be mean times. It’s a wonderful, it’ll, it’ll provide you a wonderful career.

Matthew Laurin

Like I said, the first thing is just make sure you’re cut out for it. It reminds me of the E-myth Revisited. Michael Gerber’s book, how a lot of business owners started out as technicians turned business owners and they don’t really, you know, they’re good at that one thing, whether it’s law or, you know, baking cakes or making hamburgers, but they don’t. When they get into business for themselves, they realize there’s all these other aspects that you either have to delegate or do yourself until you have a team to do it.

James Fausone

And Matthew, there are unpleasant aspects of it. Right, the cashflow problem is unpleasant when you can’t pay a vendor. Firing somebody because they’re not meeting expectations. This is unpleasant. You people will not like you based on you know, certain business decisions you have to make. Yeah, on raises you’re going to give out or bonuses you’re going to give out or even assignments you’re going to give up. So you have to have the the mental toughness isn’t the right word, but the mental toughness to say, I’m making this decision, I’m making it because I think it’s in the best interest of the firm. And I’m willing to take whatever Fallout comes from it, even though those people won’t understand all the factors I took into account to make this decision.

Matthew Laurin

Agreed. Agreed. Jim, a final question. Um, what is one book you recommend every attorney read who’s either just starting out in private practice? Or maybe they’re thinking about doing it?

James Fausone

Wow, you didn’t ask you that ahead of time. So a good chance to think of think of them

Matthew Laurin

will get a truly authentic answer.

James Fausone

Yeah, think of one thing. So I, I tried to have a book title for it. But I guess I would tell you, it’s not in the area of law. Okay, we find that thing that resonates with you that that expands your horizon. Whether it’s in an area you you have an interest in, but are involved in. We’re talking about marketing here, at some level, I knew nothing about digital marketing. And over time, I knew I had to become more involved and more into that. So I’ve certainly tried to read that sort of information. business books in general, Warren Buffett’s an investor and writes a annual letter with great business and practical advice and he’s from Omaha. And he writes like a normal person who doesn’t is not a New York elitist or or West Coast elitist. So so even any of those sorts of things, I guess I’d say sort of a homespun business advice of Warren Buffett. You can never go wrong.

Matthew Laurin

I love Warren Buffett. You’ve been listening to Jim Fausone Partner, Managing Partner at Fausone Bohn. Jim, where can people go to learn more about the law firm?

James Fausone

So go to FB as in Fausone Bohn on, you’ll find the law firm and if you’re interested in our Veterans Disability practice, it’s and excellent we do because that’s a national practice legal help for veterans camp really covers the where a lot of our marketing effort goes and a lot of our marketing experience comes from from And we’ve employed everything there, Matthew from using consultants to help us with SEO or pay per click management to in the last year or two last year, I guess, which we hired a marketing guy for inside the firm, because we felt that we really, really need to step up the game. And I guess there’s a piece of advice I’d give folks to is even we hired our marketing assistant. I should have done this years ago, I knew I should have done this years ago. And I sort of bounced around for a while and didn’t know if I could convince my partners on this. Finally, I said, I know I have to do this, I’m just going to do it. And if you guys don’t like it, you know what, so what, but we did this right before COVID. We did this right before shutdown, and the easy thing to do would have been stopped that marketing. Mm hmm. But, you know, we looked at it really. So we’ve got a marker way through this problem. And I didn’t think it takes this long. I didn’t think we’d be working from home this way. But one of the better things I think we did is not give up on those efforts in the downturns. But it’s nice to extend our reach, extend what we were doing, while some others fell away and stopped doing it, you know, we were able to move into that space. And I think it’s helped, in part because people are at home working, but they’re also on they’re on digital more right there on the internet more, they’re checking more things out. So we’ve seen an uptick in our internet contacts from folks because of that effort. So you know, it, go to, or on Facebook, or any of the other social platforms and you’ll see some of the things that we’re doing in that marketing space for that practice group as well.

Matthew Laurin

Those are all awesome tips. Jim, thanks a whole lot for taking time.

James Fausone

Not a problem, Matthew, thank you.


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