The Winning Strategy that Built My Practice

October 7, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Frank Vendt is the Owner and Founder of The Vendt Law Firm. He is a high net worth divorce attorney and knows firsthand how difficult the divorce process can be. Frank has been practicing law for almost 20 years, venturing out to start his own successful law firm back in 2012. He’s currently the President-Elect of the Fort Bend County Bar Association.

 

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

  • Who’s Frank Vendt?
  • Why Frank started his law firm, The Vendt Law Firm.
  • Frank talks about his struggle to find clients during the early days of the firm.
  • How Frank attracted clients and referrals for his firm.
  • Frank talks about his mentors.
  • What Frank thinks every new lawyer should do to start and run their firm successfully.

In this episode…

Imagine this: you spend over $150,000 on an office setup and different kinds of ads, but weeks pass and not a single client phone call. You know you’re a good lawyer, but you don’t have the clients to prove it. What do you do?

For Frank Vendt, quitting was never an option. So instead, he figured out the marketing strategy that helped him grow his law firm.

Tune in to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin to hear from Frank Vendt of The Vendt Law Firm. They talk about what it’s like starting a new law firm, the struggle to acquire clients, and how to add to your client roster.

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

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 from Google search. And speaking of successful law firms today, I have the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Frank Vendt. Frank is the Owner and Founder of The Vend Law Firm, and he’s been practicing law for almost 20 years and started his own successful law firm back in 2012. And he’s currently the President of the Fort Bend County Bar Association. Frank Vendt, welcome to the show.

Frank Vendt

Good to see you. Matt.

Matthew Laurin

Did I get that right in the 20 years? I should ask you about that before.

Frank Vendt

Yeah. SoWell, obviously, I was in law school. I’ll say 2001 started clerking for a firm so I worked for firms and legal contract negotiation, a lot of different things.

Frank Vendt

Prior to starting the farm,

Matthew Laurin

okay, cool. Cool. So yeah, take me back to the beginning. Why did you? Why did you decide in 2012? Why’d you start? Or why did you decide to start your own law firm?

Frank Vendt

Why you see that little girl right there.

Frank Vendt

Duty men to feed them. So here’s the thing. When I came to Texas, I was working for a big corporation. We did contract negotiation, I want to get back into doing private type stuff, the litigation work. And when I not being not being from Texas, I had. My view was when I came here, I was going apply for jobs like everybody else. So I really end up starting my firm out of necessity. Now, I’ll tell you a funny story. I was with my father. And we were sitting there and I was telling them how I was having trouble getting my foot in the door. To a law firm, I didn’t find anyone that would hire me. And I was number seven. In my class, I passed two bar exams that I thought surely I could get someone to hire me. Now that I’ve been in business long, I realized why that’s not that easy. Because firms are trying to make money and they’re trying to be able to support their own families. And most of your litigation firms just aren’t really, really big unless their personal injury or something like that, where they’re turning clients. But the kind of work we do in family law, and at the time was doing some criminal. It’s more that attorneys more focused on the client. The client wants that attorney, they don’t want a big conglomerate of people, they want to know who’s working for them. So anyway, so what I was sitting there talking to my father, and I said, you know, I’m having trouble getting bigger job. I don’t know if this was a good decision to be caught out like this. And he says, well, let’s just start a farm. And my father is a plant worker. He didn’t come we didn’t come from money. He says I’ll get some of my 401k and I begged and begged do not take any money out of your 401k so no robot robot builder, robot builder, I put you in it you’ll be fine. I’m literally like begging him do not do that. And he’s going we’re doing it Come on let’s go get a real job we’re gonna find a builder. So we go out there and find the biggest dump of a place you can find and he says I said how much you think it would cost me file account knows about you? And I said How much do you think it costs to redo this thing reminded about 35,000 Well, that sounds safe. So we go and buy this piece of property have no idea because I’ve moved to Texas like a year earlier have no idea really what we’re doing. We’re just

Frank Vendt

guessing. Yeah. And he

Frank Vendt

we buy the place we start getting quotes the first quote, we get to redo this building. And not even really do it right. was like $90,000 Hmm. And I went that’s exactly what I did. You know that feeling like oh my god. Look, here’s the deal, we’ll fix it up. When this doesn’t work. I can sell it. I probably won’t get as much as I can. But I can go back to work in and sales or something and I’ll just give you the money back. I mean, you’re not to lose your 401k Yeah. And he’s like looking at me like I’m stupid cuz you know, a parent thinks their kid can do anything in the world. And I’m thinking you think that because you’re my father and you’re about to see me crash and burn, buddy, this is gonna go bad. So we ended up putting about 150,000 into this, don’t have a building that I should have torn totally down and just built from the whole slab But hindsight is 2020 Yeah, needless to say, we went about 120,000 over budget. And at this point, I’m just kind of giggling like, Okay, this is gonna be hilarious. I’m thinking in the back of my mind, good thing I learned about bankruptcy won’t get rid of the student loans, but at least I can bankrupt. So, you know, we go and my father comes up with this idea is like, oh, there’s a lawyer, they put the sign in the front with this LED. And I’m like, Man, that is not the image I’m wanting to portray. I want to be looked at seriously. And he’s like, Listen, son, you have to get somebody in this door. He’s like, you can be a great lawyer. But first, you’ve got somebody in this door. So he talks me into this. Really just it the signs, not, it doesn’t really fit what I was trying to portray. It’s, yeah, totally sign out in the front. So am I gonna put the sign on? I’m gonna change tires, basically, you know, I don’t think it’s gonna be hard. But it’s not as professional and prestigious as you kind of want to be portrayed because you’re trying to make this image, especially as a young lawyer. Yeah,

Matthew Laurin

very common and leave industry.

Frank Vendt

Yeah, you don’t believe in yourself that much as it is. So you just kind of want to at least look what you’ve seen. So I had been working in law firms before, so I kind of, I believed in I knew what to do. But it was more about what other people believed in. Yeah. So I go in there, and I put the sign on. And it’s January first, we lit it up. January 1,

Matthew Laurin

January, January 1 2012.

Frank Vendt

Ah, so I was working 2012. But the farm was open. But that build was done, I guess, was 2014 and 14. Okay, so I was like working remotely satellite that’s for nothing and trying to find a job because that wasn’t working. Right. So we opened this farm. And I, I sat there for three weeks, and my father would call me every single day. Anybody call? Anybody call you? And I’m at my desk like, no. Good. Got one call. Not a call dad. thing that son should be getting them there. I’m going, Yeah. Yeah, I know, I’m thinking about going out there one of those signs of spinning it around, you know, we’re open. So I sat there and did that deal. And about three weeks go by. And finally someone calls and, and I’m so cheap at this time, like my car I had, the copy machine was like a I don’t know how to use copy machine. I had a scanner. That was I bought one of the scanners in one night, I had to scan something like 50 pages took like three hours to put it because they weren’t doing electronic file and at that time, so I’m like scan that keeps getting pages stuck. I’m like, Oh my god, you know, but I was so committed. I’d stay there till one o’clock in the morning scanning it because I had to electron because they just started this electronic filing, but they weren’t you at the time you didn’t have to do so. just ridiculous. But I remember getting a call and bought a little cell phone. And I answered the offer. It’s like nine in the afternoon, you know, 9pm and they’re like, Hey, I got your number from my father. He knew your father worked at this company. And we knew him and we’d heard his son came here from law. This is what happened. They could have said anything it wouldn’t matter what they said the law what kind of case it was, I would have taken it. Yeah. And it happened to be a criminal case because at the time I wanted to do criminal I later found out that I really didn’t like defending from Yeah, just reality that is

Matthew Laurin

that was it. That was the first one that came in, etc.

Frank Vendt

that came in one from the side one from anything. And, um, I took that case and then someone came off the street on the sign I took a DWI. So underprice To this day, that guy got a steel rod prepare for a jury trial for each house. He paid me 1500 dollars in total.

Frank Vendt

But long story short,

Frank Vendt

I went to see a friend of mine in town, who was the only lawyer I knew in Texas at the time other than I got to live in Austin I didn’t really talk to and I knew as a lawyer, but I don’t like that. But this guy had met. And I went to him and I was like, Man, I’m really trouble getting busy today. You know, I get a lot of my business off the internet. I went, Oh, the internet. Okay, because that was something I we didn’t really do in the past firm. I was

Matthew Laurin

worried. That was gonna be my next question. Like, what what were you going to do to get cases in the door? So

Frank Vendt

that was what it was. So he said that and I said, Okay, so I caught up a buddy of mine. He’s like, I know how to make websites. So he gets on GoDaddy and makes me a $250 website. And it looks really pretty good. I was impressed with his work. Yeah. Only problem was no one ever saw it ever, because we didn’t know how to optimize it. So we had a website but no one ever knew it was there unless it was on your business course. My best score looked at my website, right? Yeah. And so nothing was happening. I was like, I gotta get people. So I’m like googling, how did you get your stuff up? Because I mean, I haven’t really focused on I had a marketing degree. But it was from 1990. We The Internet was kind of new around that time. Yeah, brand. And then the Yellow Pages was the king of advertising for lawyers in 2001 2003. When I came out, you wanted that double page? Yeah,

Matthew Laurin

the double truck, right, double.

Frank Vendt

Yeah, so that was a big deal. And you couldn’t get them because the person who had them first got them all the time until they, they wanted like, 20,000 a month for him. So I’m sitting there going, Okay, I remember the Yellow Page, you guys came to me. So the first year so I work two jobs. They say, and I work two jobs. And that’s what I did. I committed my job was for bills. And every dollar I made from my farm would go back into advertising. If you were an advertiser, and you stopped at the vet law firm, you got a sale. I didn’t care what it was. If they stopped by with pins, if they you know, the high schools. Were you sponsoring our magazine? Yeah, what ever it was, I was that guy that they walked out with? Wow, I really sold him. They don’t have a clue. I didn’t know what I was doing. I’d already committed every dollar was going to advertising so that I could figure out what worked. I put it. My when I tell you I was on the radio. I was on weather apps. If they called me and said, Are you interested? Sign me up. I didn’t

Matthew Laurin

care. That was going to be one of my questions like What was your biggest professional challenge? And it sounds like just getting things going was like getting it going.

Frank Vendt

If I remember sitting there. I’m Christian. And I would pray and say, God, I know I can do the job. Will you please get me somebody to do it for? I mean, I would have done it free almost, you know? Yeah. So I went around and I tried every single advert. I’m not lying to you name that I did commercial. I didn’t do TV. But I did commercials, where I do like a little commercial and run it things. Yeah. Anything you can think of I sponsored shares calendars I was my card was every single put, if you talk to me, you were thinking I was boasting. I was a lawyer. I wasn’t boasting. I was a lawyer. I was trying to let someone know I was a lawyer. So they would call me like I go to a frickin snowball. Stan, Here’s my card. I’m an attorney that you know, like, what is this guy doing? So I’m sitting there, and I’m just doing anything I can. And I had decided that the law firm, so I called up some people and I was like, Look, I’m trying to start a nice I’m gonna build me a website, and then get it where I’m on Google first page and all you know, yeah, no, I yeah. What are you looking to spend on like 500 bucks or something new. That kind of giggled. They were like, man, if you’re gonna do pay per click all you’re looking at like, you could be talking 10,000 a month if you these big firms to compete with them. Yeah, I went 10,000 a month. I said, Oh, my God, I have a good friend of mine. Let’s talk a bit kind of caught him. I was like, man, I think I really I’m not gonna get this building up for sale. This is not good. Yeah. So I found a company that would make a website for like, I forgot how much I think was $3,000. And then they would try to optimize me for it wasn’t much I know they even do optimization. They would just move me on pay per click. Yeah, they they went ahead, and they they made the worst website you’ve ever seen. It looked like something out of a cartoon? It was horrible. I don’t know what they were thinking. It truly looked like something like from we should have astroworld here. But you’ve heard of Six Flags, or does it look like a cartoon lawyer website? Oh, my

Matthew Laurin

God. Was that on The Vendt Law Firm.com that domain. It was a long time. I’m gonna have to look that

Frank Vendt

It was so bad. It was so but so they were the first one with that domain. Then this other guy comes to me I go to one of these because I’m doing everything I can I go to one of these groups that you meet. What do they call like a referral working a network networking group? Yeah. Those were horrible. Totally not my personality. You know, I’m not gonna trade. I’m not. You’re not even. I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna give something of value though. Like, you got to pay this fine. I’m like, No, I can’t. I’m like, that’s paying for clients. I can’t do that. And so I did. I went to that little meeting, heard what it was never got in the group. But a guy was like, I do websites and I’m like, we gotta be better than these cartoon characters I have. So he gets it. He’s like, oh, mine’s overseas. I’ve got some people in India that knew everything went great. And the website like was better but it never worked on his phone like I put up my closet look when it’s on the far side. Yeah, but you you got to flip your phone over. Most people flip their phone over. I’m like, What? Might you kidding me? Because I kept trying to go as cheap as I could. Yeah. Finally,

Frank Vendt

finally I

Frank Vendt

I went with you guys, which used to be the other company. rankings Esquire ranking right Rankings.io. Yep. And I remember the price and all and kind of gone. I don’t care, whatever it is, this is it. It either works, I’m done. Because all the other advertising, I used to say you got to get this many dollars per dollar you spend. And I still I still look at is about a one to five, or five to one, you got to get about $5 for every dollar you spend over advertising or it’s a waste, you’re working for them. So I started kind of looking at what was working. And I realized what was working was only the internet. Nothing else was working like calendars. commercials. site, nothing was working. But the internet. So I went all in. You guys were really good. But we were having trouble at that time getting me on the first page and sugar lamb

Matthew Laurin

in those Oh, yeah, those key markets.

Frank Vendt

Yeah, the key markets that I’ve talked to you about. So I firmly believe without a doubt that Chris and you without y’all I’m gonna tell you right now, we would not be the firm that we are. Now. We we get more from referral today because we got the opportunity to go out there and do our job. And people start referring you cases. But we still rely on you guys to give us that one or two cases a month that’s going to generate cases down the road.

Matthew Laurin

Because shake them and that’s awesome to hear.

Frank Vendt

We kind of look at the marking, I always tell my staff, the internet is to get us a person that we do a job for. So they can go out until three people to come see us.

Frank Vendt

That’s a great way to look at it.

Frank Vendt

That’s how we look at it. Now we still need to make money off for you guys. And when it’s slow, you know me, I can tell you, when we fall on the page, I can tell you when we fall on the page. We’re not running PPC right now as you know, we’re just we don’t have the staff to handle everything. Which is a great thing to say. Right? Yeah, I mean, versus I’m waiting on the call. But when we run PPC we definitely see that I can tell you when Pay Per Click is on. I can tell you when it’s on. I can tell you when we’re on the tops of the first pages and and what Eric I can see where the clients are coming from. And I can see how many calls we’re getting.

Matthew Laurin

That’s so cool to hear, man. Hey, um, when you talk when you look at a pay per click advertising versus organic search, even in your experience with other agencies, where do you feel like you’ve you’ve gotten the biggest bang for your buck.

Frank Vendt

So used to I always used to think it was SEO, I thought SEO was definitely the biggest bang for the buck. When Google changed the way they do their list of people. So there was a time when you saw like a couple here, a couple up there. And then you saw the SEO back then this was probably four or five years ago. Yeah, I felt like SEO was really where it was. today. I really think you generate just as much if not more from pay per click.

Matthew Laurin

Now I feel like I feel like that’s probably pretty true statement that there was a lot of activity going on

Frank Vendt

and on. And for a while there I had a stigma that and I think I was right when it was transitioning us to people looked at SEO was the real people. Everybody else was an advertiser. It was like whoever was the first one on the list from search engine optimization, like number one on the page from advertising. That was the real company, that that’s how it kind of was like that was established. So you wanted to be there. But I don’t. And it’s almost like it’s now it’s not like that used to even I used to go to Google, if I saw an advertisement, skip them and go to the real stuff.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I know some people that are so so like that for sure. Mm hmm. And so you’ve got

Frank Vendt

to have both if you want to, but

Frank Vendt

that stigma is going away. And you’re seeing, you’ll go to the top of the page on advertising and go to the first one on the list. It’s the same as the advertiser now, right? So a lot of times it’s like, I don’t I don’t I think the maps are good. maps are good. People coughed a mouse. But you get the and this is for lawyers only that I can talk about. I find that people get caught off the map or doing the quick Hey, do you handle this? How much are you? Okay? Yeah, the people that go into the website are reading about you. They’re reading and they’re looking at things that matter to them. Um, you’ve seen my website have a quote about me. Being married prior, and I’ve made a comment to someone before we got divorced. So yeah, no, I read it on your thing. I liked it. She said that. So they do look at your content. Yeah.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah, you’re right. I mean, when you, when you can get the cycle, higher quality leads, it’s so much more beneficial than just the people that are kind of pre shopping and in in your career. Frank, I wanted to ask you, and maybe you already touched on this a little bit, who’s been like a really influential person or kind of like a mentor that’s helped you kind of get where you are today?

Frank Vendt

Well, I mean, obviously my father because he was, but he’s not in the professional tailors. Two people might not well, three, the lawyer I work with first who’s now deceased, really showed me how to be a lawyer. I was young, I was 20, something, he would show me how to go. He was big on how you dressed. He said these people pay you a lot of money. Do not show up. Not looking the part. Yeah, there’s an element, they don’t pay you just for what you say. So they’re paying you for every single thing down to when you show up. When I mediate on zoom, I wear a suit and tie every single time. He said they’re paying you for every bit of it, not just what you say not just the result, the entire piece of it, which is why I get frustrated with my staff. When we make any little, even on an email, they’ll say something and they’ll use the wrong word or something like that is grammatical. It bothers me. And I do it too. But it bothered me because people are paying. So he taught me about what you need to do as a lawyer. My father, of course, was my backbone. He thought I could do anything you want a personal

Matthew Laurin

story, by the way?

Frank Vendt

Yeah, well, you just you, it’s like, I had to pay him back. But he also believed in me so much, and I didn’t believe in myself near as much as he did make. And to this day, you know, you kind of seem like, names, and it was a no brainer. And I’m still going you don’t understand. Yeah.

Matthew Laurin

We got lucky. Oh, so cool that you had someone to be like that in the belief in you. And then there’s an

Frank Vendt

attorney in town, Scott, Bruce, or who, when I went into Family Law, I went into family because I was kind of like in divorce. And Scott was a family lawyer, the only person literally the only person I knew in town, or in Texas, that was a lawyer. And the reason I knew him is he had handled my divorce when I got here, and I would text him or call him very cat like very light, like, hey, do you mind answering? I will I would look in the book before I call him for hours, because I didn’t want to bother him. And he and I’d say, Graham, thanks for asking. I’ve been looking for four hours for that. And he’s like, you research for four hours, you could text me that. So him open his door? Which is why if a young lawyer calls me or text me, they’re getting an answer. And I tell every one of them. Don’t even but see lawyers just have this thing where we don’t want to ask, or we’re not good enough or something. Look, they can ask me anything, I will tell them anything because I have been where I had no one to go to. And something that took four hours was like literally all you do is put a line on the end of the page with the person’s name and let them sign. That was

Matthew Laurin

actually one of my one of my final questions was about if you had a piece of advice for a new attorney, what would it what would it be? A young attorney calls you up? And he’s like, I’m new to the area. I’m starting my own firm, what would be the first thing you tell them?

Frank Vendt

Everybody talks about networking on my wife says it best as you know, networking, no, that’s good. But let’s be honest, they’re trying to get business for themselves and not really gonna do it for you. That the first thing I like to tell them is be ready to put in the time. You know, when I told you I didn’t have the copy machine, and all that was just me, I answered the phone, I did a type and I did the filing, I did everything. I would sit in my office till 1230 or one in the morning putting papers in a file. My back was killing me because I was sitting on the floor. Um, and I gone through a divorce actually lived in the back of that office for a time, it was services tough. You’ve got to be able to say Listen, I can’t I’m not gonna worry about you know, you’re watching your friends make money and you’re sitting there that you got to pay the dues. And then the other thing is, you got to be willing to put in the work. But outside of that you need to figure out a marketing campaign. Because there’s a bunch of you out there. There’s a bunch of kids coming out of law school that know how to do law. There’s a bunch of kids that look like you you what’s gonna do it is you luckily I had a marketing degree and I always knew it was important to a business. But you got to look at your marketing you you need to be low on overhead as possible, as low as you can on overhead as possible. But if there’s somewhere you’re going to spend it It better be in marketing. Because if you don’t have business, I don’t care how good a lawyer you are. You go you can go out and recite law day long. You’re not gonna make $1 on it unless you have someone paying you to do it. So That’s great advice. Very good advice. I mean, it’s just a reality. It’s a real I mean, like I told you, I kept saying, I know I can do this job, I don’t have a business. If you don’t, you have to first get the clients, then you can do the rest. That’s the number one thing. So yeah, you might start getting referrals down the road when you get known, but how you gonna do it must get business. So the way I looked at it was, overheads got to be low. But if there’s something you’re going to spend it on, it’s going to be marked. Remember, I told you put all the money back into it, I was working two jobs. I put all the money back into it. And the marketing is still to this day, when I look at our stuff. I’ll tell my paralegals, and I say look, this much we’ve got always have available in case we’re slowing down to dump and you know how I kind of work the PPC. Yeah. So but um, yeah, that that that’s the only thing and then if they don’t know anybody, and they don’t know the law, I mean, yeah, they need to try to find somebody kind enough to that you can call and don’t be scared to call them because believe it or not, a lot of us really enjoy telling you the answer. Yeah, we like talking about it. I get a lot younger call me up sometimes I don’t even know to ask my man. Think about that. Let me look into this and find it out. And I’ll tell you, because there’s there’s some things that come up that we just don’t know right off the bat. Yeah, you enjoy answering it.

Matthew Laurin

That’s super cool, man. Yeah, straight from the from the guy who’s done it. Guys, you’ve been listening to Frank Vendt, Owner of The Vendt Law Firm in Richmond, Texas. Frank, where can people go to learn more about your law firm?

Frank Vendt

But www.TheVendt. Vendt is like an air vent. But with a D before the T The Vendt Law Firm.com I think we’re also www.divorcelawyerintx.com in TX for Texas divorce while you’re in Texas, com?

Matthew Laurin

Yes, sir. Frank, thanks for being on the show, man.

Frank Vendt

Hi, Matthew. Good seeing you

Conclusion

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 Prepare Your Solo Law Firm to Scale

September 30, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Daniel Ramsey is the CEO and Founder of MyOutDesk. MyOutDesk is a company that provides virtual professionals to help business owners regain valuable time and freedom. Founded in California in 2008, MyOutDesk virtual professionals work from their fully-equipped home offices and offer significant cost savings compared to similar USA-based service providers. Over the last 13 years that they’ve been in business, MyOutDesk has helped attorneys, law firms, and other entrepreneurs hire 6,000 virtual assistants.

 

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

  • Who is Daniel Ramsey?
  • Why Daniel founded MyOutDesk
  • What MyOutDesk is all about
  • Daniel talks about who you need to hire first to scale your law firm and when to do it
  • How to hire virtually for your law firm
  • Daniel talks about how MyOutDesk is different from freelancer sites
  • How the virtual employee relationship works

In this episode…

If you’ve taken the bold step to start your law firm: congratulations!

As you market your firm and grow your client list on your own, you’ll inevitably get to a point where you become inundated with work that is anything but the real legal work you love doing. What happens then?

This is when your law firm starts to own you. This is also why you’ll struggle to scale. Luckily, Daniel Ramsey of MyOutDesk is here to show you how to avoid that situation altogether.

Listen to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin and hear from Daniel Ramsey, CEO of MyOutDesk. He talks about preparing your law firm to scale without having to give up any more of your time, when is the best time to scale, and how a virtual hire can help your firm.

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

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 today, I do not have a successful law firm but a successful entrepreneur Daniel Ramsey. He is the CEO and Founder of MyOutDesk, a company that provides Virtual Professionals to help business owners regain valuable time and freedom. Daniel, welcome to the show.

Daniel Ramsey

Matthew. Thanks for having me, man. I’m excited to be here.

Matthew Laurin

That’s awesome. And yeah, I appreciate you coming on. So usually we have lawyers, law firms on the show. And we have had, we’ve done a few thought leadership episodes, and we’ve had some other business owners on so it’s super cool to to get another entrepreneur or like minded person on the show that can kind of give their their take on what it’s like to start a business and grow it which a lot of law firms are doing too. So.

Daniel Ramsey

Yeah, love it. In fact, you know, the good news is I have attorneys, I’ve been to court. I know, I know that world. In fact, I have attorneys on in four different countries. So that’s a wild thing to be able to say on a on a podcast, but yeah, Ben decor in a good way, I hope? Well, both good, both good and bad. I mean, I kind of think any entrepreneur who owns a business at some, at some stage within that business, you’ll have a dispute. And so, you know, I think it’s just part of being smart. And we made a lot of mistakes. And, you know, we’ve been in business 13 years, and I’ve screwed every single thing up, you can imagine, in 13 years. And, you know, we’ve hired and helped attorneys and law firms and, and other entrepreneurs, we’ve helped them hire over 6000 virtual assistants. So you can imagine with 6000 people there, of course, there’s been disputes. Of course, there’s been challenges. Yes, that’s just kind of the normal, I like to say, people are messy. And, and that’s just the truth of our business. And we’re, we’re a support mechanism for entrepreneurs to get leverage. So we help, you know, marketing, admin, sales and customer support. Those are kind of the four areas that we serve our clients. But yeah, I’m excited to be here and share with your audience.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, life is messy. And it sounds like you got a ton of experience. So yeah, tell me a little bit more about MyOutDesk. What do you guys all about?

Daniel Ramsey

Yeah, so MyOutDesk. So here, here’s a stand if you’re listening right now, and even in the attorney world, this is norm. I’m, I’m it’s 2009. I’m in Guatemala, and I’m on my honeymoon. And it’s one of those amazing places like it’s a Francis Ford Coppola resort. You’re we’re in the rain forest, there bungalows in the trees, and monkeys, like literally monkeys swinging around, and you had to watch out when you’re eating at the bar, because it was an outside bar. And monkeys would swing in. And if you weren’t paying attention, they grab your bread or something, you know, it’s what and this is gorgeous Lake, you know, we’re seeing this gorgeous Lake, from our bungalow where we were staying, my wife and I, and I found myself at the bar at one in the morning working. Literally, I’m closing a transaction, I’m doing a deal, like I’m on my honeymoon, and I’m doing a deal. I’m in and the bartender takes my phone, bartender takes my phone. And then he starts taking pictures of me. And then he starts making fun of me in Spanish, like stupid white guy, you know, beautiful bride back in the bungalow? What’s wrong with these dumb Americans? And, you know, in that moment, you know, looking back in that moment, I was just frustrated, angry because I owned a business, but the business really owned me. And I had this dream of, you know, being an entrepreneur since I was a kid. And I didn’t quite know what that meant. I went to business school and you know, worked for a lot of successful entrepreneurs, but didn’t really quite know what it meant to build a business. And so, at that moment, I was like, I want to stay married. I’d like to someday have kids, I don’t want to work on my vacations. I don’t want to work seven days a week, 24 hours all the time. And so I really, I came back from that moment and, you know, worked really hard to create a business that I own and vice versa, not the business owning me.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s when you say that it reminds me of that book, The E-myth Revisited. And in that He talks about the author talks about owning a job, not a business because you you can’t leave it right I mean, technicians they start a business and and they’re the only ones that have the talent, the only ones that run it and and when they leave work doesn’t get done. So I totally hear you. I mean, it’s, it’s not a true business until you can walk away from it and, and and it runs itself pretty much for the most part. And so so MyOutDesk that’s what that’s where the idea came from is when you’re on your honeymoon you’re working and

Daniel Ramsey

well what happened and kind of like Michael Gerber’s book, The E-myth, you know, what happened was like, Okay, well, why can’t the people do my employees? Why can’t they do it? The way I want it done, like, what what was missing? What? Well, and, and in that moment, I had no standard operating procedures, no training program, no, no way of hiring somebody pulling everything, we call it tribal knowledge, you know, because most businesses they own all of their IP is in their brain, in the brain of their employees, or the value of their business walks in and out of the door every single day. And so, Michael Gerber said in his book, you know, you got to document you write, create systems and process and then, you know, delegate those systems and processes, you know, to employees and pay them well and love on them. And hopefully, they stay and they help you build more systems and processes. So, you know, when, after the honeymoon, I came back to California when we’re in Sacramento, California. And I really specifically focused on documenting my systems and upgrading them and really finding ways to hire people and give the non dollar productive stuff away. So in the attorney world, I mean, you know, it’s all about how many cases you got, like, how, how many clients do I have the sign that a retainer, and they are paying me to do work on my my behalf. But there’s a whole bunch of other stuff in the background that has to happen, you know, you’ve got to be you have to keep the lights on, you got to have a website, you got to create content, like you guys do for attorneys. When somebody calls, somebody has to answer the phone, somebody has to invoice somebody has to keep track of, you know, you know what’s going on, you know, what’s going on in your calendar, what’s going on to your day, you know, there’s a whole host of things that isn’t practicing law. And so as you’re growing and scaling a law firm, what you realize is, well, if I’m billing, if I’m billing a customer, or if I’m doing an intake meeting, I’m I’m talking to somebody who needs to hire an attorney. Well, those are the two highest and best uses of my time, just like real estate, employees have highest and best use. And this is part of what I came back after my honeymoon and focused on is like, what in my business? Only I can do? What are the things that like, as a founder, as the licensee as the person who understands, you know, in your guyses case, the law, what are the things that only I can do? And what are the things that I can give away, and put into a system and process and give away to someone else? And so that’s really the entire conversation that we’re having today is like, how do you grow and scale? It’s through other people.

Matthew Laurin

That’s so true. It’s so true. And so I talked to a ton of attorneys that are on their own, and, or maybe they have like one other person in the office. And they’re getting to a point where they’re just so inundated with their own legal work, and then all the other back office stuff that you talked about before. Yep. What is? What should they be thinking about when they’re when they’re thinking I gotta hire an employee? Number one, I need someone to help me do all this stuff. What’s like a red flag like, Hey, you need to think about this first.

Daniel Ramsey

Yeah, I love it. You’re like, what’s the trigger point for considering a virtual assistant in your world? I love it. Well, first, you know, your first hire is always a CRM, right? And most attorneys are referral based. But as you start building a business, those referrals, and they have your cell phone or they have your email, but as you start building a business, what you realize is you’re getting referrals from people you don’t know and you’re maybe you’re doing advertising, maybe you’re you’re building, you know, you had a firm like yours, build a website and start driving traffic. So your first hire is always, always always a CRM, get the client’s information in there, make sure you have their contact, what they do, how you serve them, and then you just kind of keep those that that database of clients growing and growing over time. Your second hire is an administrative person, hundred percent. Scheduling calls for me doing my billing, making sure I mean, shoot. The other day, you’ll laugh at this. One of my clients who owns a bunch of franchises in on the East Coast calls me and he sends me a text while we’re talking. And he’s like, dude, I finally got the barn door fixed. I’m like, What are you talking about? He had our virtual assistant order barn doors, that for six months his his wife had been bugging him, because the barn door broke. And in winter’s coming, you know winter’s coming It just sat there. And you know, and so but it’s a time consuming thing, because he had to measure it, then he had to find a manufacturer, then he had to talk to the manufacturer, make sure you know fit in, and then they had to find somebody to install it. Like, even that small, fixing the barn door. So my wife or my husband doesn’t kill me, that’s a task

Matthew Laurin

into it, sign me up. I mean, I can’t, I can’t count the number of times there’s something around the house or something in the office that I should have been doing that I just, it comes into my mind, and I don’t have time to do it. Yeah, and having someone to like reach out to virtually to say, hey, this would be sweet.

Daniel Ramsey

Well, and, and, and the way our virtual assistants work, is we tend to hire very specific things like in this, he’s a CEO is 14 different franchises. And he needed an administrative person, somebody to help him with paperwork reporting, you know, just moving the business forward, right. Other clients call us and they’re like, they need help with marketing. Other clients call us and they’re like, Look, somebody needs to answer the phone, and just be a customer support. So director of traffic is what I call those guys. Okay. Um, and then other people are like, Look, we’re generating a ton of leads, and I don’t have anybody to call them and screen them and schedule. So those are kind of the four primary areas. But look, leverage is leverage. It’s like any other tool, we, you know, we all went, I went to college, as a business student, I got out of college, as a business student, and I didn’t know anything about business. Isn’t that isn’t that ironic? You know, I think it’s even harder for attorneys because you go to law school, and you learn the basic foundational stuff of law. But nobody teaches you how to be a lawyer.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I had a conversation just like that with with someone before. And they were, you know, going online, trying to read articles, trying to watch videos figuring out how to promote themselves. And I brought that up during a conversation, I was like, they probably teach you all about, you know, anything that has to do with the law in school, but nothing about how to run your business. I mean, it’s just like, it’s just like in elementary school, they don’t teach you anything about everyday life, building a credit score, or investing or doing things to help you in your financial life. You learn all about the Pythagorean Theorem, though, and, you know, all this other stuff that you know, you really don’t use it on a daily basis. And it’s the same for attorneys for sure.

Daniel Ramsey

Yeah, well, and I think attorneys have a harder because, you know, you learn, and, and all the professions really do because you learn the basics of law, but nobody really teaches you how to be a lawyer, you have to learn that through experience, right. And it’s just falling down and fighting in court and fight and other sides. And then the third thing is you have to also learn how to be a business person, like, and so they have, like, they’re learning simultaneously how to serve their customers, how to how to, you know, win in court, or when you’re opposing another person. And then they also have to figure out, well, how do I drive revenue? How do I leverage my business? What systems and tools do I need in order to grow and scale? Like, how do you hire somebody, and make sure that our culture fit, like, there’s just so many lessons inside of business that nobody really perfect prepares you for. And so one thing that we’ve done really, really, really well is we’ll help people get assistance, like, period, end of story, we’ve done it 6000 times, where the highest rated virtual assistant company in the marketplace, we have 600 5 star reviews, and they’re all transparent on our website. And so, if you’re an attorney, or you’re in law, or you’re practicing, and you’re like, here’s, here’s the trigger point. I’m dropping balls, I’m not seeing my family, I’m not going to the gym. I’m working weekends and evenings and nights. That’s when you know, you need help. And I would just, I’d love your audience to come to our website, sign up for a consultation. We walk through the process and you know, we walk through the process of like, what tools do you need? What does your office need to look like? What’s your CRM, you know? How do you communicate with somebody who’s not physically in your office, like all those kind of, you know, they’re important, they feel small, but we’ll help you set up a virtual platform, so you can grow and do what you do and what you love, which hopefully, is practicing law.

Matthew Laurin

I like how you pointed out those trigger points, because I think a lot of attorneys, they don’t don’t even think about that. Like when do I know? And yeah, I mean, that’s so obvious when you talk about it that any I mean, you should be you should have time for all those other things in your life. And you should have time to practice law because that’s what you’re supposed to be doing. And when you find yourself not being able to do that, that’s when you know, right. I do have one question for you, though. So there’s a lot of stuff out there. freelancers, freelance websites? Yep. You know, part time hires where maybe you don’t have to offer benefits and things like that. How do you know what the benefits are between having a virtual assistant and then maybe some of those other options?

Daniel Ramsey

Yeah, so there’s three types of outsourcing you know, I want to you know, I probably want to maybe even four I’ll talk about the fourth. It’s not typical for medium sized businesses, small and medium SMB markets. But here’s the thing. There’s a lot of dating sites out there. So I have a project, I need a little project. And I got a little flyer, I want to make a flyer, I’m going to this meeting. I need a one pager, you know, we call that a dating site fiber up work. You know, there’s a lot of great project based websites. analogy, yeah, where it’s a marketplace, right? Then you have low cost providers, I’ve got 5000 pieces of data, and I need them shoved into this system over here. And it’s going to take six months, if I do it, you go to a low cost provider, India is a great place China, there’s a bunch of those out there right now, where for 678 bucks, you can have some data manually entered into something and we just we call those low cost competitors, they’re not necessarily going to be strategic, they’re not going to have expertise, they’re typically not going to have a lot of experience. But if you need crunching of data, that’s where you go. And then you have a, you know, these huge companies like Accenture, where they they service, you know, Uber and Amazon. And they’re a BPO company, what’s what’s called business process outsourcing. So, and they typically service the s&p 500, the largest, you know, the largest companies around the globe, right? Then you have us, we, we consider ourselves a marriage site. So when somebody says, I’m running out of time, I need support in this area, this functional area, they call us, and then we help them find a long term employee who has experience who has a track record who, you know, if you need a marketing person or an admin, you know, you you get somebody who has that background, right. And so they could have up to five, some of them have 10 years of experience, they went to school for this stuff. They’ve got, you know, they’ve got a proven track record of helping entrepreneurs grow and scale. And so that’s, that’s us, we’re a marriage site for leverage.

Matthew Laurin

I like that I like those analogies in it. I wasn’t expecting that answer. And it really kind of highlights my ignorance to what it is you do, because, in my mind, I’m thinking, Well, why don’t we just go to like Fiverr, or Upwork. And I used those sites a lot. But you’re right, it’s like a dating site. Because when I try to make any kind of process or get any kind of workflow, using those sites, it’s really hard because, you know, you put in your project, it’s done, it’s closed, you got to start a new one, you don’t always have contact with the same people, you always have to re explain how to do your process, things like that. And I can totally see why it’s better to have someone who knows your business knows, knows how you want to operate. It’s, it’s for the long term it’s for, it’s for growth, and I can totally see how that’s better than, than doing the project by project.

Daniel Ramsey

But what we, what we would help our clients understand is like, Okay, if you got 10 more customers, customers that you didn’t plan for next year, let’s say 2021, you you’re you’re rockin through your business, and you realize, you know, you’re gonna do 20. But because you hired leverage from us, you were able to actually sign 30 contracts, and instead of doing your billing, or answering the phone, or scheduling appointments, or buying a barn door, whatever it is, you’re able to just practice law and serve your customers. And that cost that cost differential, that’s exactly what how you create scale, you give away 50% of your day of the not important stuff, the stuff that takes time has to get done, but it’s not important. Then you take that 50% you got back and you focus it on growing your business, getting new customers loving on your existing things, and fighting, right. That’s what attorneys we’re fighting for our customers left every single day. That’s what that’s what my attorney does is fight for us. Right? And so, if you do that, you’re gonna go, you’re gonna grow, there’s just no question. And that’s what we help people realize is what should I get off my plate? What should I focus on as an entrepreneur, as an attorney? And that’s really what our secret sauces

Matthew Laurin

Daniel when when someone hires a virtual assistant. How does that relationship work? I mean, is it like having an actual employee you can do weekly meetings with them to do they does that virtual assistant understand their business? even maybe have an email at that business? Things like that?

Daniel Ramsey

Yeah, in fact, we help. I mean, we help our customers create a launch plan. And inside that launch plan, it’s like, Hey, give them access to your phone system, give them access to your CRM, teach them about, you know why you went to school to be an attorney, why you love the law, what you’re, you know, what your challenges are as a business. Sooner introduce them to the different team members. I mean, the more time you integrate this person into your your business, the more likely they’re going to adopt your growth mindset, they’re more likely they’re going to adopt your core values and your, your company motto and like really, what you’re trying to accomplish in the world. So for us, hundred percent, get in there, work really hard to integrate your virtual assistant into your business. Because if you do, it’ll, it’ll change your world.

Matthew Laurin

That’s great. Great advice. Guys. We’ve been listening to Daniel Ramsey, Founder and CEO of MyOutDesk, Daniel, where can people go to learn more about the firm?

Daniel Ramsey

Well, I actually want to give away a book. So if you’re listening right now and your attorney I, first of all, they want the details, and they want to know exactly what they’re getting themselves into. That’s what I love about our attorney. And so I always like to give away a copy of our book, I wrote a book, it’s called Scaling Your Business with Virtual Professionals. And it’s basically an outline of everything, you can get rid of everything in your world that you could give to a virtual assistant, exactly how to launch them what the virtual playbook looks like, like, how do I train somebody who’s not in my office? How do I train somebody who’s an admin, or who’s a marketing person or a salesperson who isn’t a lawyer, like, there’s a whole, every single specialty that we kind of specialize in, there’s a whole chapter that says, hey, this is how you do it. These are the things you have to have in place. And so it’s really a guide for our customers to be successful. And if you’re listening right now, and you wanted to explore a little bit more, you can just simply text SVP. So it’s Sam Victor Paul to 31996, the number that you text is 31996. And the message is S as in SAM V as in Victor, P as in Paul at scale with virtual professionals. And you’ll get a free copy of our best selling book wildly enough. The best seller in Japan, I don’t know how or why that happened, but it’s a best seller in Japan and in the US, and so I hope your audience will enjoy it and appreciate our free gift to them.

Matthew Laurin

Nice. Thanks, Daniel. That’s really generous of you. I appreciate you being on the show.

Daniel Ramsey

It’s been my pleasure.

Conclusion

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.

Practical Steps to Keep Your Solo Practice Startup Cost Low

September 5, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Brian Zeiger is the Founder of The Zeiger Firm, which specializes in criminal defense and civil rights litigation. He’s a trial lawyer through and through, with a passion for jury trials and protecting people’s individual rights. When he’s not in the middle of a trial, he also excels in record clearing, expungements, government pardons, and federal pardons.

 

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

  • Who is Brian Zeiger?
  • What it was like in the early days of Brian’s firm and his initial marketing strategies.
  • Brian shares why he chose to become a trial lawyer.
  • The biggest challenge Brian had to overcome when growing his firm.
  • Tools Brian uses to efficiently communicate with clients.
  • Has civil unrest impacted Brian’s civil rights litigation cases?
  • Brian’s advice for attorneys who want to go solo.

In this episode…

Starting your solo practice is a significant and expensive decision. You want to rent an office, buy office furniture, hire an assistant, and set aside a monthly budget to run your marketing. But what many don’t mention is that you might not have a lot of incoming cash flow for those first six to eighteen months. So how do you start your solo practice with all you need in place while keeping your cost down?

Catch all the details of keeping your solo practice startup cost down on this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast as Founder of The Zeiger Firm, Brian Zeiger, chats with host Matthew Laurin. They talk about Brian’s initial strategies when growing and marketing his practice, why he chose to go this route, and his preferred tools for keeping consistent communication with his clients. Keep listening.

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

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 Brian zeiger. Brian is the founder of the zeiger firm and specializes in criminal defense and civil rights litigation. He’s a trial lawyer through and through in the trenches every day fighting aggressively to get justice for his clients. Brian, welcome to the show.

Brian Zeiger

Hey, Matt, thanks so much for having me.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, no problem. Thank you for participating and we’ve, we’ve had a lot of different attorneys on the show, some criminal defense, but I don’t think anyone’s been as involved in trial litigation as you. I mean, I know a lot of attorneys do that. But you seem to really relish that.

Brian Zeiger

Yeah, I, when I get a case and I meet the people, I’m instantly from the minute I meet with them, I start thinking about what we’re going to do at trial. I appreciate that a lot of things don’t go to trial. But I prep and think about cases as if I have to try it from from the very beginning, both with criminal and with civil rights. I probably done approximately about 120 jury trials as lead counsel. And so I’m constantly thinking, you know, well, let’s try this one. So let’s prep it like we’re gonna

Matthew Laurin

chance prepared, right? Yeah. So Brian, take me back to the beginning. When you started your firm, what was what was that like?

Brian Zeiger

Well, at that time, there were three of us and we we were rented this really, really tiny office in a very middle of the road kind of building. And we were able to, you know, sort of sort of get started there. And about, you know, we didn’t, we had almost no cases. And then about maybe nine months later, there was a tenant next door to water down the hall that moved out. And we sort of made a deal with the landlord to take over that space as is. And that was kind of a mess as well. But that was like a real office. So we were able to have a real a real office setup at that spot.

Matthew Laurin

And were you guys were you guys doing the same types of cases back then criminal defense, civil litigation,

Brian Zeiger

uh, back back then we were basically focused on criminal defense. Okay. Um, we were basically focused on criminal defense and we did a lot of criminal cases. Of course, when you’re on your own like that the beginning you’re hungry. If and you know you’re lean, and so you’re doing what you can do in order to overcome that hunger and no longer between. and and, you know, use your time in order to attempt to justify your living, and doing that to your family and your spouse and your friends and all that. So, other cases do come in, but we attempted to hone our skills on criminal defense. Yes,

Matthew Laurin

gotcha. Gotcha. And so like, when you’re starting that off, and it’s the three of you, and you’re looking for cases, was it a referral network? Or were you doing your own marketing or how were you? What was the plan to generate business? So, so it’s really interesting question. Um, so at my age,

Brian Zeiger

I am on the cusp of people who grew up with and embrace computers.

Matthew Laurin

Me too,

Brian Zeiger

in childhood, and people who did not embrace and use computers in childhood. I remember in you know, third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade getting a home computer. I remember having a computer in a classroom at school in maybe fifth grade. I remember those things I remember working you know, earlier in life where everyone did not have a computer on their desk. Right and then I remember later earlier and work work everyone had a computer on the desk and there were no longer shared computers. So I remember Daisy wheel printers. That everyone for me, I remember the sounds of the daisy wheel printer and I remember tearing the sides, the dotted sides off the sides of the paper. I remember having a laser printer at home was a big deal. Yeah, it was when at home color printers came out and and not getting one because of laser printer was a better thing to present at work or school. And I say that to you because when we started There was a thing called the Yellow Pages. That was it was a thing, especially for personal injury lawyers in the Philadelphia area. And there was a thing inside the Yellow Pages called a double truck. That was when you opened the the book, if you will, if someone had an ad that ran the entire page from left to right across the entire page, that was called double truck, they had had the entire opening. And that was somehow some symbol of success, I guess in the community was that well, they have a double truck. So they therefore must be a real law firm and or that there was sort of the back cover of the yellow pages or on the front there was like a magnet that they stuck on to the front of the Yellow Pages. And these things were all sort of a very big deal and you can only get in once a year because they only publish the Yellow Pages. What One time. Yeah. A year. So. So we started, right, I believe, when that form of advertising was falling off a cliff. And people started using the Yellow Pages for like coasters.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, mine was a doorstop. So,

Brian Zeiger

yes, exactly. So, um, so we so we were on the border for that. And so at the same time we we were of the age of, well, it seems like we should be using the internet to advertise instead of the Yellow Pages. This is wrong. So we did both more so in the yellow pages, and that took about two or three years to get out of our system. And then we dove in at the deep end on internet advertising.

Matthew Laurin

Gotcha. Gotcha. Yeah, I remember all that stuff, too. You know, I had a very basic computer in the home growing up and it wasn’t until in my teen years when, you know, we had you know, the dial up AOL, you know, you got the disc in the mail. And yeah, it wasn’t really prevalent in my life either. And then now, I’m They’re everywhere, right? I mean, people have supercomputers in their pockets. And it doesn’t seem like you can do anything, you know, get a job or do a job without a computer. So it’s amazing how much how far it’s come. Another question I had for you was about the trial work itself. So I was reading on your website, and it is trial to work something that all attorneys have to get into, or is it just something that you kind of consciously chose?

Brian Zeiger

I get very small amount of lawyers that actually go go to trial. Okay. So I think there is a much larger group that have tried cases. I think, I think they’re I think there’s a distinction between people that have have tried a couple jury trials in their career. Right, and people who actually, their focus is on trying cases. I don’t think it’s the same thing. I think there are many lawyers, for example, who maybe have done, you know, eight to 10 jury trials as either sec. Chair lead counsel, and they’re prepping all their cases like they’re going to go to trial. But I think that’s different than having tried the amount of cases I’ve tried. Maybe I get to maybe I did not answer your question.

Matthew Laurin

No, no, that’s fine. I had a cousin once, who was a prosecutor in another state, and there was one thing she didn’t enjoy about the job was being in in trial. And, and I was wondering, like, how, you know, does an attorney have to get really good at that in order to run a successful practice?

Brian Zeiger

I think, um, that there’s that there’s two requisites or prerequisites for being a trial lawyer. I think you have to sort of naturally enjoy public speaking, and being quick on your feet, and having a sense of humility about yourself. Um, like, like self humility. And then I think the second part is that knowing the, you know, self, acknowledging that you have the first part, and that you’re interested in doing this. The second part is you have to work on it. You have to hone your craft. Right, you can’t, you constantly have to work on sin no matter you know, everyone who does a lot of trial work is naturally a good public speaker in my opinion, I very rarely find people that try a ton of cases that are terrible public speakers. It seems

Matthew Laurin

like there’s an error of salesmanship to it as well,

Brian Zeiger

I guess. But but the but you know, so that to those people, then you have to take it and go sort of to the next level, and really hone hone your skills. Um, so, you know, I think that that’s that those two things need to be there. Okay.

Matthew Laurin

Okay. What’s up, Brian, what’s one of the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome and growing your law firm? So you started off in the beginning and you’re trying to get cases you’re hungry when did you kind of notice a tipping point and, you know, I got to do this to get you know, grow the business.

Brian Zeiger

It’s really hard to say I so we’re in Philadelphia County, is where our offices and we serve, you know, anywhere in Pennsylvania that people want us to go and, you know, federal court, state court and in Philadelphia County. There A lot of other lawyers. Yeah. So I think a lot of good lawyers who I like and I respect and I’m friends with, and and being friendly with them, you know, I think the biggest struggle is, is that if I were somewhere much smaller than this community, I think I would be far more prevalent. I thought that all the time so I think that’s the biggest struggle in growing the firm. Being in Philadelphia County, is that you really have to do even better than your best. You have to you have to set yourself apart like a story about there was a championship game where LeBron James in the first half was having just this this spectacular first half. And it halftime apparently, I get like an all world’s first half like a career first half. But the Cavs were not winning. They weren’t They weren’t there. Cavaliers weren’t winning. And apparently Tyrone Lou and halftime called him out and said, You know, you’re doing a horrible job. And and he the team was like, why this is our leader. He said, He’s having a career night. And Lou said, it’s just not good enough, you have to do better than your best. And so I think I think that resonates with me and that being in Philadelphia County, I think that there’s so many great criminal defense attorneys here that you have to do better than your best. You have to remember that speech and you have to try to elevate your game and realize you know, where you are and what you’re trying to do with your practice. I think the hardest part of growth,

Matthew Laurin

that’s great advice. Yeah, I mean, yeah, sometimes you just have to dig a little bit deeper. When you think you’re doing doing great and it’s always hard to hear right? If you’re if you feel like you’re working as hard as you can, and then someone says, you just you got to do it better. Yeah, totally agree. Um, Brian, what’s a piece of software Or a tool that you use daily in your practice that has kind of been a game changer for you. There’s something that like improves the efficiency of your practice or helps you work

Brian Zeiger

better. I would say, um, Google Voice, okay. It’s probably one. Probably the best tool now today, currently, um, I would say WordPress, maybe 10 years ago. Okay, was the best one. And the reason for that is, so I grew up in a very middle class area. And the feedback I heard from my neighbors, and the community and the people where I live, who dealt with lawyers was that the lawyer never called them back.

Matthew Laurin

Okay, I hear that a lot, too. And

Brian Zeiger

yeah, and so I, from the time we opened, make sure that before I went to sleep at night, I returned to every phone call that I received, or I returned every email that I received from everyone, because I remember growing up there were no lawyers I knew there were no one I grew up with was an attorney and I, I heard that constantly from from folks in the neighborhood. So I make sure I do the best I can to call everyone back. And what what Google Voice allows me to do now is to give everyone my cell phone number, and have it on my computer screen in a separate window, or have a separate monitor setup next to my computer, just with Google Voice, and have it’s on my business card and have all my clients feel free to text me call me, contact me for any reason they want 24 hours a day, and be able to immediately type a response back

Matthew Laurin

and you could just do it on the computer and say, right, I’m gonna take my cell phone

Brian Zeiger

out. I don’t have to. I don’t have to use those tiny buttons with old man fingers. I don’t have to do any of that. I can sit down. I type very fast and I Sit there, and I can just type immediate responses to clients. And I think that being in constant communication with clients and their families is such an overwhelming thing and to be able to streamline that process and do it so much more efficiently. I would say that by far Google Voice is the best platform for that. Now, years ago, I would say it was WordPress. And the reason for that is because I have no problem. Again, as we discussed earlier, engaging in the computer stuff that we have to do, right and what WordPress did for me years ago, not any more was give me the ability to go on and quickly create content for page quickly blog. quickly check some SEO stats, very quickly, very user friendly, very hands on and also when I was purchasing, SEO or PPC services, I was so well educated in what was going on that I knew when I was getting Shinola from the other side that I was able to say you actually have no idea what you’re talking about. You’re just a salesperson. You’re not actually an SEO or PPC guy or gal. So yeah, thank you, but I’m not interested in your product. So WordPress allowed me to be super educated in you know, what’s, what’s going on?

Matthew Laurin

That’s cool to hear you say that? Yeah. They have tons of documentation online. It’s neat how imbedded they are in the SEO community. I mean, there’s so many plugins for WordPress, there’s so many blog posts about how to use plugins effectively. And not just from WordPress, like it’s a whole developer community, a whole marketing community that are publishing this content that is super helpful. I mean, what I do is not hard by any means and there’s so much information on the internet to go out and learn how to do it. And even you know if you don’t have the time to do it to learn a little bit about it like you said yourself. So you know when you’re getting taken for a ride I had one question that has been bugging me. So you do a lot of civil rights litigation, how is what’s going on in the world right now impacted your practice, you’ve been seeing a lot more volume, case volume because of all the, you know, the social unrest and things going on in the world. I think it’s really hard to say.

Brian Zeiger

I think it’s really a tough thing to answer. I think that, um, in life, I always think about a pendulum that that swings and it sort of makes you know, like a figure eight or like a circle and it keeps going back and forth. And there’s there’s ebb and flow in life. And you know, we as people try to find center to find common peace in like in like meditation for ourselves, but It’s very difficult to answer your question, because I think that I’m now I would imagine we would have a slow time in civil rights in new business, period, slow time and new business. Because I would think that if I worked in law enforcement, I would be super sensitive and be hypersensitive to these issues. Yeah. And so I would be much more cautious and using force, then then then then perhaps I had previously been in my in my career makes sense. On the other hand, I would think that perhaps there’s more going on out there. And so it might require police to be somewhat more hands on than they had been previously, because there’s more civil unrest. Third, I would think that the certain areas of law enforcement or would have a far greater need and request for body cams and dash cams. Even though we’ve really seen that come on in the last five years or so, I think that now there would be sort of a request to say, well, we’re just doing our job. And, you know, let’s mount off with this technology to show everyone what we do at work. And so once they have the body cam on, I would think that then we might swing back the other way to where we were before all this started with just all of these sort of random events that wind up being cases. Yeah. So it’s, it’s very hard to say Think about it. Like, when you do SEO for Google, based on Google, right? You’re doing a site and SEO you’re doing is 100% geared towards Google organic, okay? You’re not considering any other stuff. But then Google changes their algorithm. Right? So there’s this constant, sort of sort of flow or changing things. As to the core terms of relevancy, and how Google will will, you know, judge that and put you number one, on the on the on the top of their page. So again, it’s just like a figure eight or a circle where there’s just a pendulum swinging in like that, you know, in society, we have changes as

Matthew Laurin

well. Yeah, that’s, that’s a great answer. And good analogy too. Yeah, it’s, I have always sort of wondered how, you know, social undercurrents, like that affect business at different law firms. And I know that was relevant to you. So

Brian Zeiger

the cases we do, and we’ve discussed this with you are sort of halfway between Medical Malpractice and medical deprivation cases at prisons, or community corrections centers. So those cases are not affected by right. Yeah, I opinion. And so, you know, we’ve signed up two of those very recently. So so I don’t I don’t think there’s any effect on those based on what your your question was. So again, it’s it’s case by case.

Matthew Laurin

Gotcha, gotcha. So on your website, Brian, um, you talk about one piece of advice that you’d give to clients, when they get, you know, arrested or when they’re detained or whatever, and it was to keep your mouth shut. What is a piece of advice you’d give to attorneys starting off a law firm? Like they’re thinking about going off on their own? What, what would be one thing you tell them before they go start doing that?

Brian Zeiger

Um, I have two pieces of advice, but they are they are they are countered to each other. Okay. Okay. The first piece of advice would be to keep your costs as low as possible. Right, so, you know, maybe rent space from someone else as opposed to your own space. Right, rent an office in someone else’s office first. Um, you know, don’t, don’t spend a lot of money on office furniture. don’t hire an assistant. You know, Don’t Don’t you know, don’t spend a lot of money on on things. Try to keep your monthly costs down because the first six to 18 months, you might not have a lot of cash flow coming in. Right? So if your costs are low, you can sort of tread water. Okay. On the other hand, the second piece of advice is, if you’re going to advertise, you know, we talked about the piece of marketing, I was talking about the piece, product placement, people promotion price, okay, there’s a basic piece that I analyze in marketing. So when someone comes to me and they say, will you buy this product from me, I do an analysis of all five of those PS, and see and see where it is, you know, how does that how does the end user get to my ad, you know, promotion Anyway, I’m on advertising. I believe that after you do your five p analysis for whatever product it is that you’re going to purchase at That point, you must jump into the deep end. So with advertising, if you go into the shallow end of the pool, and you put your foot in like up to your ankle, you might as well not spend that money because in my experience, you don’t get anything out of that kind of spend. You need to go on the diving board and dive in headfirst to the nine foot and spend a lot of money and crush that that medium with your advertising in order to get a return on your money. So your show so the advice is not same. first piece of advice is don’t spend any money. Do it as cheap as you can. And the second piece of advice is if you’re going to do paid advertising, do it. Don’t Don’t test the waters because you’re wasting your money. I can’t tell you how many people I see have. They want to get a website. It’s like that doesn’t work. They they want to have a sign on a bus. That doesn’t work. None None of that works. You can’t do any of that stuff. You have to do an entire full force nine foot deep end advertising campaign.

Matthew Laurin

That’s good. That’s great advice. And you’re right. Yeah, if you I mean, if you just dabble in here and there and you don’t fully commit, then yeah, I mean, you’ll see lackluster results. I’ve seen that a lot, too. Right? I’m even listening to Brian Zeiger, Founder at the Zeiger Firm. Brian, where can people go to learn more about your law firm?

Brian Zeiger

Well, because I’m your client. They can go to Google or any search engine. And they’ll see me come up. Hopefully on the top of the fold them first.

Matthew Laurin

Yes, they will. Yes, they will.

Conclusion

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.

Practical Advice for A Strong Work Life Balance

September 4, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Blake Chapman is the Founder of Life Planning Law, a wills and estate planning law firm based in Ontario, Canada. He’s also a self-described Marketing & SEO Nerd, believing that great lawyering also means doing great business. Before Blake started his firm, he pursued a Doctorate in Behavioral Economics and Law and currently holds a Ph.D., Masters, and J.D in Law.

 

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

  • Who is Blake Chapman
  • What motivated Blake to start Life Planning Law 
  • The resources Blake used to learn how to market his firm 
  • How Blake helps other attorneys with their marketing 
  • Mistakes lawyers make with their websites 
  • Why responsiveness is critical to your marketing 
  • Blake shares why he chose the Wills and Estate Planning niche 
  • Blake’s advice for how to start your solo practice

In this episode…

Your solo practice can either drain your resources or generate enough revenue to support your dreams and lifestyle. The critical difference is in how you go about it. From how you market your firm to the way you handle your customer service, Blake Chapman says that you stand a better chance of knowing your clients and serving them on a deeper level as a solo practice. How do you go about this?

Listen to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin as he hosts Blake Chapman of Life Planning Law. They talk about how Blake has succeeded in making his solo practice support his dreams and lifestyle and how you can do the same.

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

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. You’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where we feature successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States and today outside 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 law firms today I have the pleasure of speaking with Blake Chapman Blake is the owner of Life Planning Law, a wills and estate planning law firm based in Ontario, Canada. Before Blake founded his firm he did a Doctorate in Behavioral Economics and Law and he currently holds a PhD, Masters and J.D in law. Blake, welcome to the show.

Blake Chapman

Happy to be here.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, we’re just talking before the show. I know, a lot of schooling. And you were talking, it was kind of interesting our conversation about branding yourself, when you’re going into a tenure track at home, you know, with all that schooling, they don’t really touch on marketing a whole lot, which is super important for people found in their firms. Where did you when you when you got out of school, did you figure out you kind of had to take on this other part of your education where you had to figure out how to how to start your firm and how to market it and how to promote it.

Blake Chapman

As soon as I kind of decided that an academic life wasn’t going to be for me. At that point, it was okay, you know, this business I’m going to start is going to support my family. I better do it right. And so I better figure out how the hell to do it. Yeah. And so I did a lot of reading on marketing, branding, starting your own practice. And really, I mean, if you’re going to do it, you got to do research. And you know, if lawyers are good at anything, it’s It’s research. So you should be able to figure it out. And you know, a lot of it does come down to testing it once you open it, like you’re not going to be perfect when you start your practice. I certainly wasn’t, I look back at some of the things I did when I started and I’m horrified with the things I did, both on the marketing and just on like the client experience and the systems I had in place, but you know, you get better over time. You just got to learn from your mistakes and move on.

Matthew Laurin

Was there a resource that you went to on a regular basis? Like one single resource? Or did you kind of find like blog posts videos all over the internet on how to how to market your firm,

Blake Chapman

honestly, was a lot of googling, okay, okay. Now how to market the firm, you know, I mean, you could you could hire a, I could hire a marketing company at that time, I had no money. Yeah, it wasn’t really an option for me. So I figured I got to kind of bootstrap it and, and learn how to do it myself. And I wasn’t even into like digital marketing at that time. It’s really only been the last few months that I’ve kind of taken a dive into digital marketing, because I looked at the numbers and realized how much of my business comes from Google. And it actually done very little on the Google front. So I figured, wow, if I’ve done practically nothing and getting, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last few years from it, maybe if I actually spent some time on it, I’ll get more. Yeah,

Matthew Laurin

yeah, for sure. And that’s, it’s, that’s interesting. You say that about googling and researching online. I mean, that’s how, that’s how I got started. That’s how a lot of my colleagues got started and how a lot of other attorneys I’ve spoken with got started with digital marketing and promoting their firms is just kind of piecing together information from from different sources and learning about it on the internet. It’s really a great way to and I like how you said testing, because it’s so important to just keep refining your process and try two different things. Because you never get it right first time. It’s always, you know, design, implement, test, and then tweak

Blake Chapman

Have you got a you know, really keep track of what works. And I’m a big stats nerd. So I’m happy to have a giant spreadsheet where I track things. But, you know, I talked to a lot of lawyers and they, you know, do some advertising here and there. And I asked him, you know, what’s the return on investment? I don’t know. Spend $5,000 a year in a local newspaper ad? Does that work? Like does it generate a return on investment? I do that and yes, it does work for me. I tried a different ad size, and it increased the revenue. But you got to know what you’re doing and you got to track what you’re doing.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah, I agree. I agree. I was reading your LinkedIn profile. And you talk about helping other attorneys with their marketing. Is that something that you’re still involved with you You belong to any groups or you reach out to other attorneys to help them

Blake Chapman

I’ve had a lot of sort of one on one meetings with new lawyers or lawyers that are have been lawyers for Long time, but are thinking of going out on their own. And more of, you know, they see that I’ve been relatively successful at building my own practice and building a practice that sort of fits my life and fits my family. And so we sort of have those one on one meetings where I, I’m very candid about what works for me and the process I use, and that maybe they can try some of that or learn from some of it themselves. I thought I thought of starting a blog about it To be honest, because I am fully transparent about what works and what doesn’t and where my revenue comes from. And, you know, I think it’s important for lawyers to share that kind of information with other people. You know, it doesn’t provide any competitive advantage for me necessarily to keep it private. And I want to help new lawyers because there was nobody out there to help me when I started. So I wish I could have had that conversation about some new ideas and some things that work and some things that don’t work.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s great, man. You should start a blog. Um, You know, I’ve a lot of the blogs that I follow that taught me about digital marketing, where I think started with a similar mission, you know, just to kind of put information out there based on someone’s own experiences and, and try to help other other people. And I know it’s like that’s a lot of what we do in our work is just putting out content that helps people do their jobs better.

Blake Chapman

Yeah, it doesn’t even need to be like complicated in depth stuff with you know, jargon that nobody understands. You know, the last couple years all I’ve had on digital marketing is a Google My Business profile. For some good moves. Yes. And a website with some decent content not much like I haven’t had a new blog post in two years. And I’ve gotten Like I said, I over you know, about $200,000 now in revenue from that alone, and I’ve done like nothing. I’m like, it’s like the basic as basic as you can get it. To have a Google My Business profile, ask for a few reviews, and have a decent website. Like this is not rocket science. You don’t need to be a pro at SEO or pay per click ads. Like just just get started on something basic.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s great advice. And you don’t I mean, it’s all super easy stuff. When I talk to people. Sometimes they’re like, you know, they get bogged down in the weeds about doing technical SEO or doing any kind of tricks with with digital advertising and there’s really nothing there’s no rocket science behind it. There’s there’s nothing complicated about it’s really just putting yourself out there doing good work. And yet making decent content making a decent website and over time, you know, traffic business will come.

Blake Chapman

Yeah, one of the things I can’t I guess I can’t stand with lawyer websites. And you know, people make these great websites and I’m sure the paid web designers a lot of money to do it. But they don’t actually go into thinking about you know, who is my client gonna be? Be, and what kind of website Do they like? And what kind of information are they looking for? Yes. And, you know, like, are they going to be the kind of person that likes the scales of justice kind of logo that everybody else in the world has? I want to see you in a dark suit looking mean? Honestly, most people don’t want that. Most people want a real person that they can talk to that they’re not intimidated by. Which is why on my website, you know, I’ve a lot of pictures of my family. I love that. That’s who I am. I’m a family guy. And this is what you’re going to get when you work with me. You know, like, right now I’m in my basement, like, I’m not using some fake background to hide that fact. You know, what you see is what you get. And honestly, a lot of people comment on it about how they like that. It’s me and they feel like they see me personally, that I have a friendly face. And so you know, it’s done. It’s done great work for me. And really just about kind of trying to think about what do my clients like and what would I how would I like to be treated? And that’s sort of the one sort of golden rule that I keep coming back to is treat people how you want to be treated. And trust me that will lead to good business.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s, you’re, you’re on the right track. Because when people come to your website, I mean, they see to your wills and estate planning lawyer. And when people are in that mindset, I feel like they, they’re, they’re in a position where they want to protect their family, they’re thinking about the future and and how they’re going to craft their life to help their loved ones. Maybe when they’re gone, or maybe, you know, for whatever reason, whatever happens in the future, and when they come to your website, and they see family and they see caring, you know, that’s, that resonates with them, because that’s what they’re thinking about at the moment. Yeah, if they saw like scales of justice, or a courtroom or, or documents and, and things like that, you know, yeah, it would be relevant to estate planning, but it’s not how they feel it’s not speaking to them and what their mindset is right now. And same thing for other attorney websites like if you’re, you know, a PII lawyer and you’re doing car accident cases, like no one’s carrying about the process, they want to know, someone’s gonna listen to their problems and in fix, you know, the situation that they’re in.

Blake Chapman

And they’re there. They want a person. Right? They want real people. Yeah, and I’m sure the personal injury firms have tested this because they, you know, in the marketing world of law, they’re kind of at the top most competitive area, and most expensive area. But, you know, I go to some personal injury law firm websites, and I see like, pictures of car crashes and stuff and I wonder to myself, I was in a car crash, but I really want to see that kind of picture. Looking for Yeah, I don’t know, I guess I guess they’ve tested it out, but I’m not so sure.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I think it’s a maybe a borderline between relevance and, and speaking to the consumer, but you’re right. I mean, they, as business owners, sometimes we think we know what people want to see and then When we do research and actually try to figure it out, we, we realized that, that were completely wrong. I know for from other businesses I’ve worked with, we’ve hired, you know, copywriters to do research. And even in, you know, the agency world, we figured out, like, all the stuff we had on our website was completely wrong, you know, especially for attorneys. You know, like most attorneys we work with, they don’t care about, you know, ranking number one or generating leads, like that’s a part of it, but they want transparency and they want open communication and they want responsiveness. So yeah, I agree. It’s, it’s, it’s good to have your site framed in a way where, you know, it just talks about you and it’s real and it’s transparent. I really liked that.

Blake Chapman

Finally, you mentioned the transparency and responsiveness because I just got off the phone with somebody potential client to have contacted a bunch of lawyers, like at least five, and I was the only one that got back to them. Oh, no, it was an easy, easy client to get. Because I was the only one that replied, and I get probably a client a week, who has a lawyer already that has done like their will, that they want to change. And the other word doesn’t get back to them. So they’d rather just start new with somebody that replies to them. And I hear this all the time. And like this is, you know, marketing goes beyond having a website and you know what your brand is? It’s also just about basic client. responsiveness.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, basic, good customer service.

Blake Chapman

Yeah. If you have good customer service that I think that automatically puts you probably in the top 25% of lawyers that are practicing in terms of your marketing, because not many people are doing it. It’s pretty low hanging fruit.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I’m so I noticed that you, you just focus on the wills and estate planning. Was there a conscious decision to go into just one specific niche, which I think is a good idea, by the way?

Blake Chapman

Yep. For sure. So when I was sort of developing my practice, I was going through a lot of Different areas of law that I liked, and I thought I could practice in. And I knew I needed to, as we call in Canada and niche down niches up here. I knew I needed to do that. And so I was, you know, I was thinking, well, I could have like a general practice. But you know, unless I live in a small town, where there’s nobody else, that’s not gonna work. And so I thought about what kind of areas I wanted to practice in, I thought about what kind of areas of law I could do like without an office with keep my overhead low without staff. Because I’m just me, it’s just me here. And I wanted to keep it that way. And I wanted to practice where I didn’t have to go to court because I hate doing that. And a practice that sort of fits my life. And this was kind of the only one and it worked out well and I have no regrets about it. It’s been it’s been a great ride and even recently, I’ve decided to sort of reframe my marketing around the estate planning side of things. Doesn’t mean I’m not doing like probate or estate administration or executor work just means from a marketing point of view online as a strong focus on estate planning now, and I’m finding that almost doubled my business in the last few months alone.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah, I think there’s, with everything going on in the world, much more focused on people planning for the future. I know it’s affected how I think about it and see a lot of that online. So I have to ask about your high position like your your, your family and home life, work life balance. I have five kids of my own. I also work from home. And I just think it’s neat was that intentional to kind of build a life around that, you know, working from home, being able to spend more time with the family. build your business that way?

Blake Chapman

Yeah, it was intentional. I was the plan initially. You know, I’ve been a graduate student for a long time there and I kind of got used to it. Graduate Student Life of working from home and being your own boss and I wanted that to continue and I wanted to be in my kids lives and walking to school. I wanted to be able to take a Wednesday off if I felt like it. Yeah, and recharge my own schedule. And you know, that’s probably the number one thing that I’m most happy about this How am I scheduling has worked out and how building my own practice has allowed me to build my own family time. Like I think last year I took about 12 weeks of vacation. That’s not real vacation where ignore emails for a week. I do. Yeah, emails, but there weren’t any meetings. There weren’t any projects that I needed to get done or documents I needed to get done. And you know, if you tell people this and you tell clients this, this is what to expect. They get it. You know, I’ll mentioned your client while I’m going on vacation next week, and I’m like, Okay, no problem. Can you get it to me the week after? Yeah, I’m fine with that. Just got to be up front with people.

Matthew Laurin

That’s that’s really great. I it’s neat to see that um, and I bet that provides a lot of happiness and fulfillment in your life. As one final question, like, for new attorneys out there, like so people just graduating or maybe they’re leaving a firm they’ve worked for what’s a good piece of advice you have for them.

Blake Chapman

That’s a tough one.

Matthew Laurin

If they’re gonna, if they’re gonna start like their own firm

Blake Chapman

definitely pick a niche or niche to focus on. I don’t think you can go broad you got to get as narrow as possible. So that you are sort of that guy or the girl that does whatever area of law it is, is people want to work with specialists. They generally don’t want a general practitioner they want to focus on one particular area and feel like they’re getting expert advice. Ah, you know, I would say if you’re thinking of going solo after or with a firm right now, plan in advance, like it’s gonna I worked on my firm like a year before I took on a first client. Now it wasn’t a year solid, but you know, I thought about it constantly. built out my website, so I was ready to go, I had some marketing materials ready to go. And that process during that process, you really figure out what the firm is going to look like, you might have an idea now, but when you actually sort of get into the weeds of doing it, it really starts to take shape, and will help you figure out where to focus your marketing efforts. And dollars and you know, you got to when you starting out dollars are hard to come by. So you really got to be Be careful about it. And you know, there’s a lot of fancy tech out there. I tried probably like six practice management software’s trials when I was getting started. And I ended up using none of them. I ended up I use Excel, probably because I’m a spreadsheet nerd, but it just works for me, right? You got to find out what works for you and like don’t try and fit yourself into somebody else’s world. And just be yourself and trust me, you’ll be happy.

Matthew Laurin

That’s great advice. Great advice. You’ve been listening to Blake Chapman Owner at Life Planning Law, Blake, if people are interested in wills and estate planning, where can they go to learn more about your firm?

Blake Chapman

Yeah, lifeplanninglaw.ca is my website. You can also find me on LinkedIn. And maybe one of these days I’ll start that blog on my marketing efforts and how things work and don’t work. From my perspective.

Matthew Laurin

I think that’s a good idea. Blake thanks for being on the show.

Blake Chapman

No problem. Thanks.

Conclusion

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.

Starting a Solo Practice During a Pandemic

September 4, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Ann Thayer is the Founder (and Attorney) of The Law Office of Ann Thayer, PLLC. With her law firm, she represents juveniles and adults charged with traffic, criminal, and DUI/DWI offenses. She also handles domestic violence and civil protective orders, dangerous dog and other animal cases, as well as expungements.

In addition to her years of experience in law, Ann served as Co-Chair of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for two years. She is a member of NCDD and a founding member of DUIDLA, two DUI defense organizations, whose goals are to help attorneys protect their clients’ rights in DUI-related cases.

 

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

  • Who is Ann Thayer?
  • Ann shares her law practice journey.
  • How Ann has been managing her practice during COVID-19.
  • Ann shares how she gets cases.
  • Why Ann focuses on juvenile cases.
  • Ann talks about her mentors.
  • What to do to launch your solo practice—even if you’re scared.

In this episode…

Have you been thinking about starting your solo practice? Are you worried that this isn’t the right time because of the pandemic? Ann Thayer launched her solo practice, The Law Office of Ann Thayer, PLLC, right in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic—and has been making strides.

Want to know how she did it?

Listen to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin as he interviews Ann Thayer, the Founder of The Law Office of Ann Thayer, PLLC. They talk about how Ann started her law practice, why she decided to go solo, and how she’s reached success on her own during a pandemic.

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

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 we feature successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. This episode’s brought to you by Esq.Marketing, we help law firms generate more clients in cases using paid and organic search. And speaking of successful law firms today I had the pleasure of speaking with Ann Thayer, Attorney and Founder of Ann Thayer, PLLC. In addition to her years of experience in the law, and has served as Co-chair of the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court for two years. She is also a Founding Member of the DUIDLA and NCDD organizations whose goals are to help attorneys protect the rights of their clients in DUI related cases. Ann it’s an honor to have you on the show.

Ann Thayer

Hey, how are you? I am just a founder of DUIDLA? I wasn’t a founding member of NCDD. But I remember I just I don’t want to take credit for something I didn’t do.

Matthew Laurin

No, no worries. I think it says that on your website. Um, maybe I read it wrong. Maybe I read it wrong.

Ann Thayer

I am the founding one for DUIDLA, but I’ll have to double check things. If that’s wrong, I’ll make sure I get it.

Matthew Laurin

Oh, yeah, no worries. So the DUIDLA um, I read like a snippet about it just so that I could say it on here. But what is that all about? Is it like an organization of attorneys or?

Ann Thayer

Um, yeah, so there’s two different organizations, the National College for DUI defense has been around for a really long time. And when I started with the firm back in 2007, my boss got me involved in that and they’re dedicated to all DUI defense. So they sponsor a lot of seminars throughout the year and all targeting DUI defense. DUIDLA is a DUI Defense Lawyers Association. A lot of those founding members and people that started that organization, originally were part of ncbd and kind of split off. They started that organization back in 2014. And I’m one of the founding members of that organization. I still participate in both organizations, they both do a lot of seminars, we just had the DUIDLA seminar last week, it was virtual, it was supposed to be in Texas, but Austin was shut down with a lot of things for bigger groups. They did it virtually, which was interesting. They did it all over zoom. And that’s cool. Very cool. Very,

Matthew Laurin

very cool. So my first question I wanted you to kind of just take me back to the beginning, I looked through your LinkedIn profile, it looks like you you’ve worked for a lot of law firms, you’re a public defender, or worked in the public defender’s office for a little bit. But take me back to the beginning of your journey as a lawyer and how you kind of got to where you are today.

Ann Thayer

Um, well, my dad was a police detective. So I always kind of was interested in criminal law. And when I first started out and pass the bar, I took the first job I found, which was as a public defender actually did a lot of juvenile defense and domestic assault cases there. And I really enjoyed it. The main issue was it just didn’t pay much. You have student loans, you have bills, you know, that sort of thing. So I found I went, I was there almost two years and then went into private practice for a firm. And he did a lot of DUI cases and got me trained and things on the field testing and breath testing. So I did that. I really liked working for him, but it was back around 2008 when we had that recession, we just weren’t busy. I felt like he was going to have to let me go. So I started looking for another opportunity. And found another firm that was out of DC and Maryland that was starting in Virginia and I was their sole attorney for a while they are now have a much bigger presence in Virginia than they did back when I was with them. And after being with them a couple years I found a law partner joined up with her she already had her firm set up I was 5050 partner with her for eight years. And I’ve been wanting to leave for kind of almost as soon as I was with her but it’s one of those things you’re scared to go out on your own and do it by yourself. And I

Matthew Laurin

know how that feels.

Ann Thayer

I finally kind of forced myself to take the leap last year to get it going. And of course I did that and pandemic times. But it’s been okay so far for being a brand new firm and a pandemic. I think I’m doing Okay,

Matthew Laurin

Wait a minute. So you just launched like right before the pandemic hit

Ann Thayer

I launched my firm February 1.

Matthew Laurin

Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that. I thought you had been practicing for a couple of years. I’ve been practicing since I’m sorry. Like with the with your firm. They started

Ann Thayer

now my new my own firm open February 1. So that’s so crazy. You know, our year I’m good, right?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I mean, if you can found a company, no matter what it is at the beginning of a pandemic and still be still be alive. You know, as it’s getting a little bit better than I think you’re you’re good to go long term. This is this is like the worst climate to start a business in ever.

Ann Thayer

It is But I’ve been doing okay, I’ve worked with all the court committees. So because I’m on those committees over the COVID, when the courts were closing and doing different things, I knew how to get cases into court from being on those committees. So I was able to resolve some things that might otherwise not have been resolved that quickly, just to kind of push things through, or to get my clients earlier court dates and things like that, just from being on those committees. That’s why I do that. It’s a lot of time to invest in those, but it helps me to help my clients. So that’s my main is just to keep informed on what’s going on.

Matthew Laurin

I’ve spoken with some other attorneys, and they’ve really had to adjust their strategy for meeting with clients who are attracting new clients or getting clients to actually do consultations with them, because they may be afraid to come into the office in person. And have you noticed that at all, or is that is there a learning curve,

Ann Thayer

that hasn’t really changed too much for me over, I would say over the last 10 to 12 years, I’ve been really good at talking to people over the phone. If people really want to come in person, I would make that happen. I’ve tried to limit that a little bit more, because being a sole practitioner, now, I’m kind of all over the place. So it’s a lot easier for me to do a phone call or even a video than it is to wait on someone to come into the office and things like that or to get back from court and time to meet somebody. So I’ve tried to target that more, even outside of COVID with being more open to video and things and getting more things done. COVID kind of fed into that a little bit, I haven’t had too much of an issue with that. Good to hear. And then being a small firm, I don’t want to have to worry about cleaning and having people in and out and things like that. So I think virtually I’ve tried to adjust as much as I can, with phone calls, my clients get my number, my cell and my email and all that anyway. So I’m pretty open with my clients and people calling in. So that hasn’t hurt me too much in terms of attracting clients. It’s hard to know with my marketing steps, what’s worked and what hasn’t, because in the middle of a pandemic, and there’s some other criminal changes, too. So there’s so much going on right now. I don’t know, what’s the cause of what’s working or not working?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, it can be it can be. So and a lot of attorneys are hungry, obviously, when they start their own firm. And like you said, there might be some apprehension about generating business. How are you out there hustling to get cases?

Ann Thayer

Um, I wouldn’t say I’m hustling necessarily. But like I like I said I wouldn’t be bad phrase. Well, no, no, and but for criminal like if I see something going on, like there was some things that happened at the courthouse recently with the marijuana cases, and I was able to step in, and I didn’t make any money off that. But I was able to hand out some cards and help some kids with the prosecutors getting rid of marijuana cases. And then they weren’t like they’d sent letters out to them. And then they weren’t getting dismissed. And it was a big issue. So we were able to kind of get that stuff fixed. I saw a girl the other day that was about to go in front of a really bad substitute judge on a 90 something reckless and I was like, you’re gonna go to jail and like, don’t do it. And the judge tried to warn her and she wasn’t listening. And I guess her mom finally was like, Hey, listen to her. So they ended up hiring. So just stuff like that, where you’re not like, I didn’t even hand out my card. She came later and found me and asked me for it. I just didn’t want her to get screwed and have to go to jail. You know, so yeah, I guess that’s kind of my hustle. And then I do a lot of social media posting, like my Facebook, my Instagram, like just trying to I use a lot of funny memes and to kind of spin it into criminal and traffic stuff, just to kind of educate people on what’s going on in Virginia and get feedback and so that I’ve gotten some things from that too. So I guess that’s kind of my hustle.

Matthew Laurin

I’m a huge meme fan, I love memes, um, I first thing you said, though, is pretty cool, because it kind of it sounds like, I’ve always thought that the most successful, you know, lawyers or business owners or whoever are those that are passionate about their work, and it that kind of comes through and what you’re saying that you’re really passionate about helping people and you’re kind of just there, you know, seeing what you can do. And maybe it sounds like that’s playing into to helping you get new business to,

Ann Thayer

it has and I do a lot of protective orders, which have been huge right now with like the pandemic and things that people were kind of in a tough situation with those cases either not having somewhere to go if it’s on the petitioner side or the defense side, when they can’t come back to their home and they’re not able to get a hotel. And it’s been kind of there’s been a lot of that right now with families and people stuck so much together. A lot of animal dog bite cases, I guess animals are getting just as restless and anxious as their owners. So I feel like there’s been a huge amount of those cases coming through to or it used to be. So some of the things I’ve already been doing in my past practice covid didn’t really affect that a little bit. My DUI stuff I haven’t been doing as much there haven’t been as many in my mind. In terms of DUI cases, people just not haven’t been out and about bars being closed things like that’s true. Or, you know,

Matthew Laurin

I’m in from speaking with you before you had mentioned that you like to do or you like to focus on juvenile cases. Is that was there a conscious decision to kind of focus on that area or,

Ann Thayer

um, I’m the oldest of six so I’ve always been around Kids, I have a lot of nieces and nephews and things. I believe, like, when I first started out as a public defender, I did a lot of juvenile cases. So the juvenile code is a little bit different than the adult statutes. And it gives us more creativity and ways to help kids. So I like to kind of help steer them back in the right direction and get them the services and treatment and things that they need. So we don’t have to see them back in the courts, or they don’t have to go to detention. So I feel like if you can help make a difference with them early on, it could keep them coming back. And, and that’s where my passion is a little bit because I think people forget that they have the same constitutional rights and things that an adult does. You know, parents get mad at me if they say why you can talk to my kid by themselves. And I say because they’re entitled to attorney client privilege. I don’t it doesn’t matter that you hired me and I got I’m gonna fight for them the same as I would an adult. I just want to give them a better chance, you know,

Matthew Laurin

That is so cool. Yeah.

Ann Thayer

So that’s where my heart is, but not as many of them lately. I think kids have been laying low a little bit.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah. I feel like with everything, um, yeah, people have just been staying staying inside. And maybe there’s less of less of that going on. But that’s really neat that you’re able to I totally agree, like, so I have five kids too. And my oldest is 14. And are not too I know, you said you were older. So yeah, I guess. But my oldest is 14 and, um, got your life just changes when when you have kids and and you probably feel the same way having younger sibling seeing that, how they grow up, how they start, how they grow up, and you just really look at people differently. And I

Ann Thayer

would say that my younger siblings had it way different than my myself and my older my parents kind of learned and a good friend got his driver’s license, and he posted it. He was following on Facebook post the other day, he’s like, Oh, I’m following my son. He’s like, like, freaking out. And I said, I was like, well, don’t forget to call me if there’s tickets. And then some of his friends started popping up. They’re like, Oh, you do those, but make sure it’s not just speed and things like that. And here’s the cool, the cool lawyer it.

Matthew Laurin

That’s awesome. Um, yeah. So it’s cool that you’re able to, to help kids out when they’re because they are still kids at that point. I mean, they’re not I, it really bugs me when I see, like headlines where kids have committed a crime, even serious crimes, and they’re being charged as adults, or they’re, you know, being dragged through the court system. And

Ann Thayer

in a couple of

Ann Thayer

those, and they went differently. I had two kids kind of similar. Well, what not similar circumstances, but one that got involved with another kid and committed a pretty serious offense, I felt like he should have stayed in juvenile court. He was like, honest, like cooperative, like, was completely remorseful and they just were like, no, this is too serious. We’re sending them up to adult court, and they wanted a prison sentence. And the judge was like, No, I’m not doing that he won’t make it there. He’s like, I’m gonna treat them as if I’m going to sentence him under the juvenile stuff and give them a chance. So even though he has a permanent felony, violent adult conviction, like he didn’t have to do the several years he was really facing. And then I had another kid same type of charges. And they were really pushing for him to have that kind of stuff. And finally, I pushed and pushed and pushed. And finally, they just didn’t have the evidence on him. He was kind of, he really wasn’t the one involved. And they finally figured all that out, got it situated. And luckily, his case went away. And I had substituted in on that his attorney been trying to push him into a felony plea. And they were just like, but I didn’t do it. And, you know, I finally got involved, it all went away. And he just sent me an email that was back in March. And he just sent me an email about a month ago and said, I just want to thank you, because I wouldn’t be here with my family having dinner. And it just made me feel good. And I was like, well, it’s like, you know, it’s kind of

Matthew Laurin

changing people’s lives. That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s so great. Um, so almost every lawyer I talked to, there’s like someone in their life professor or first boss, something like that, where they’ve been a major influence in their life, or in the direction they’ve taken for you who’s been a mentor on your journey to you know, starting your law firm and doing the things that you’re doing now. Um,

Ann Thayer

I’ve had a full been a couple different pushes with that. So my boyfriend and family and friends have always been pushing me, why aren’t you doing this on your own that sort of thing. You had that kind of behind the scenes. And then what really finally was the final push for me is I attended two seminars actually a year ago. One is in San Diego for the DUI deal, a conference where I have several different attorneys UI friends throughout the nation. And the other one was the Crisp Video Marketing Summit. And I was at that last year with some other they were I also met one of them through the DUI organizations, and then his buddy who does personal injury. So we were all kind of there together. And they really between the two conferences and the friends I had at those conferences. They were like, Look, why aren’t you going out on your own quit, like dealing with your partner. They’re like, go do this. And so those two things and then push me they kind of like, I wouldn’t say it was a bet but they were like, you’re never gonna do it. And I was like, I can do it. got me going. And it was kind of that first step, I was like, I’m gonna prove them wrong, I can do this. And so then I had a couple things happen with my old partner that was just kind of the last off, you know that last push that you’re like, you know what, I gotta do this on my own. And so I did it. So nice. I would say the different attorney friends I’ve had, my dad was always a good influence he passed away several years ago. But my family and friends, like people just look that to you. They pushed you to say, hey, my mom always saying, hey, I want to see your name on a farm. You know, those kind of things are ways to do it.

Matthew Laurin

That’s really cool. Yeah, I know, the peer pressure sort of thing. And the competition can be really powerful. In a good way, when, when you need that extra push. So yeah, that’s a really neat story. So if if there are new attorneys out there, that’s that’s primarily our audience. What, what piece of advice would you give them? If they’re kind of in the same boat? Like maybe they’re working with a partner? Or maybe they’re working at another firm? And they’re thinking, Man, I got to get out of my own, but I don’t know if I can do it? What piece of advice would you have for them? I mean,

Ann Thayer

there’s two components to that, like one is the business side of things, which is the marketing and advertising and see how you’re going to go in that direction. And the other is, making sure you learn and understand how to handle the cases you’re going to handle. Because we see a lot of new attorneys out there doing things with cases that we’re like, oh, my goodness, what are you doing? And when we see that we try to mentor people and say, Hey, this is really how you should do it. You really need to have people you can ask questions of I just had lunch today with a group of people that work with me on the committees and things and we talk about our cases and throw out questions, we’ll message each other and say, Hey, you know, the case for you know, whatever, you really need that group of people to rely on that can help you. Because you can’t do everything.

Matthew Laurin

And sometimes someone’s support system.

Ann Thayer

Yeah, you need that. And so I really, you need to find that. And then in terms of going out on your own, you need to have a plan, like the bar has a lot of checklists. That’s what I did. I researched the ethic parts of things. I researched the checklist on what you need to do. I tried to keep my office expenses down, like my actual like startup with furniture and stuff, I got a lot of used furniture and things but it looks really nice. I spent some time searching for things. And I tried to keep my actual, like, office stuff down and then spend more on marketing and advertising. Because I knew with the being a new firm, I wanted to come out strong and be competitive and start getting cases, I brought a lot of cases with me from my old firm, my client, your clients get to choose where they want to go, Oh, they all they all came with me. So I had a little bit of startup. And then I got the website going a couple months before I was ready to leave. You know, I talked with my partner back in December, we decided on the end of January, like termination date kind of thing to wrap up a lot of things and then I was ready to go February 1. So

Matthew Laurin

that’s great advice. Yeah, um, yeah, I’ve heard that from, from a few people that have asked that question of where they talked about having a plan. And I think it’s just so important to have at least a rough idea of what you’re gonna do. If not something written down on paper, we’re gonna take this step by this timeline, or this step by this date and, and having it all worked out. So that’s, that’s great advice.

Ann Thayer

You can go hang your shingle and just go out without a plan. But I’m kind of more of a planner.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I think that’s why a lot of businesses fail in the United States is because people, they, their technicians trying to become business owners. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book, The E-Myth Revisited. It’s a lot about starting a business and starting mature business. But anyway, one, one story he tells in that book is why why a lot of businesses fail. And I think it’s because a lot of people go out without a plan. And they’re technicians they’re good at doing you know, one thing and then they try to make a business out of it, but they don’t really realize all these other things that go along with owning a business, all the you know, all the accounting related work, all the marketing related work, all the sales related work, all the administrative related work, aside from you know, the actual service that they’re delivering, so, it’s cool that you were able to do that successfully.

Ann Thayer

I will tell you people, that’s one of the things I’m having to learn is my last partner and I we were 5050 we each did a little bit of everything, like I did a lot more of the marketing and advertising and things so having to do the books, making payments for bills like you know, accounting stuff, doing all your case files, talking to new people deciding on your marketing things, you know, staying up to date on your continuing legal education being involved in the committees it’s you gotta have to space it out and budget your time a little bit.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, you quickly realize you know, not only what you’re good at what you’re not but what you want to do and what you don’t want to do and like they’re saying their CEO and then there’s an accountant and their marketing person and and their sales representative and whatever and and then I think you can pick out what you what you can delegate first. Like I hate doing this, when I get enough money, I’m gonna hire a person to do this.

Ann Thayer

And also learn to like I was working really, really like 18, 19, 20 hours, you know, for a few months there and then finally was like, I can’t keep doing this. So now I try to make a list. Every day, I’m like, Okay, this is what I got to get done today, this is what I’d like to get done. And if I have time, I’ll finish these things. And I try to give myself a cut off time so that I’m not here till 10 to let you know in a minute, and balance with those things, too. So I tried to just take care of whatever is really priority for that day, and then fit in whatever other things I can because you always have new things that pop up whether it’s a new console or set from the committee’s that I’m working on, you know those type things.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah. Yep. Great advice, guys we’ve been listening to Ann Thayer, Founder of Ann Thayer, PLLC. And where can people go to learn more about your firm?

Ann Thayer

So you can go to a few places. I have a website which is it’s Thayernovalaw.com, so it’s my last name and then Nova for Northern Virginia law dot com. I’m also on Facebook under The Law Office of Ann Thayer. I’m on Instagram, LinkedIn, a little bit on Twitter. And I also have some YouTube videos that I’ve been filming to educate people about different parts of Virginia law things. So I’m out there a lot try to educate people as much as I can I do free consults for all the cases that I handle to make sure I can answer your questions that I’m the right fit for you. That sort of thing. Gives us each a chance to figure that out, make sure I can actually help you. And then once you hire me, we’ll get started with actual pieces so you can find me on any of those places.

Matthew Laurin

Sounds good. Thanks for being on the show, and I really appreciate it.

Conclusion

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 Your Solo Practice Off the Ground Without Going Bankrupt

August 24, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

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

 

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

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

In this episode…

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

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

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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

 

Episode Transcript

Prologue

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

Matthew Laurin

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

Charles Lamberton

:
Happy to be here.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

Excellent. All right. Well, breaking new ground.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

For sure, yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

Cool, thank you.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

I can agree on that.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

Right. Yeah.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah. That’s good social proof.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah, absolutely.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

Absolutely.

Matthew Laurin

:

Especially when you can mention a monetary win.

Charles Lamberton

:

Absolutely.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

There he is, right there.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah. There I am.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

Right.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah, it could be.

Matthew Laurin

:

There’s a particular way you positioned it.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

crosstalk 00:16:03

?

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

Okay.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

Agreed, I 100% agree.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

Yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

I could see that. I can see that.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

That is badass.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

Sure, yeah.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

crosstalk 00:22:55

.

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

Thank you.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

That’s great advice, Charles.

Charles Lamberton

:

Yeah, thanks.

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

Matthew Laurin

:

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

Charles Lamberton

:

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

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

How Lawyers Can Get the Most Out of Legal Directories

August 12, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Luciano Oliveira is the Founder of JurisOffice, a directory of attorneys and law firms. Luciano has been in the legal field for more than a decade and practices commercial litigation, business law, personal injury, cross-border transactions, and conflict of laws.

 

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

  • Who is Luciano Oliveira?
  • What does JurisOffice do for lawyers?
  • Luciano shares why he started JurisOffice.
  • How to market your new practice online.

In this episode…

Marketing is not a skill that comes naturally to many people, so it’s no surprise that many attorneys looking to start their solo practice may not have clarity about where to begin online. But Luciano Oliveira, the Founder of JurisOffice, says to start with free tools and a marketing budget. So, what are the tools and how should you spend your budget?

Listen to this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin to learn more about how to market your solo practice online. In this week’s conversation, you’ll hear from Luciano Oliveira, the Founder of JurisOffice, about why he decided to help attorneys through JurisOffice, how the platform works, how to market your practice online, and more.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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

 

Episode Transcript

Prologue

You’re listening to The Esq.Marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, where he features successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Matthew Laurin

Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing. We help law firms generate more clients in cases using search engine optimization. And speaking of successful law firms and lawyers in the legal profession today I have the pleasure of speaking with Luciano Oliveira. Luciano has been in the legal field for more than a decade and he is the Founder of jurisoffice.com which is a law firm directory for attorneys. Luciano Welcome to the show.

Luciano Oliveira

Thank you, Matthew. Thank you for the opportunity.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah no problem no problem. It’s cool to have professionals besides just attorneys on the show and you’re unique because you have the legal directory, which a lot of attorneys can get a lot of benefit out of for marketing their law firm. So super cool to have you. Thank you. Um, so can you tell me a little bit more about what JurisOffice is all about?

Luciano Oliveira

Yes, and just as a compliment, I myself am also an attorney. Right. So I’m gonna attorney license in Texas. I’m also an attorney from Brazil. And the idea that you get JurisOffice in the market was because I I saw that most often the directories were kind of more business oriented than actually attorney oriented. And I said, I wish they were better. So you set off just uh, you know, keep wishing I came up with the idea for JurisOffice and JurisOffice. So it’s done by, you know, a lawyer for lawyers and that could be the first differentiation. And when you have like venture capital when you have like, most of the directories such as Super Lawyers, and novel and so on, like, they’re really, you know, thinking about getting the most out of their, you know, subscribers and that’s not the idea that we have, or JurisOffice so JurisOffice has, you know, even like free packages, if you are a solo attorney. If you have, you know, just a couple of years of branches, you maybe you cannot afford, like the most expensive directories and JurisOffice has even like a free version for solo attorneys. There are premium plans, but the premium plans are also affordable like for a solo journey, if you want to have the premium plan which is going to give you a more you No exposure, we charge only 29.99. Okay, and for law firms, there are also offices for law firms, they go to 49.99. So you know, DC is really affordable. So that would be another plus for our directory. We also provide our over subscribers we do follow links.

Matthew Laurin

Very important.

Luciano Oliveira

Yes. He helps with the search engine optimization a lot. We understand that like, attorneys need one to promote their websites, they want their websites to show up on the first pages of Google. So in addition to have like a stream of prospective clients coming from our directory, and our subscribers, they do get it a lot and actually even us like sometimes we have a prospective clients, you know, seeing these things Can you help me with these specific keys? And then we go, we tell the Lisa, we’re not like an attorney like we are a directory. So yeah, these keys we gonna, you know, tell the Lisa, there are such attorneys who are our subscribers in your area. So you can, you know, contact them directly. And in addition to dad’s dead, our subscribers websites are also going to show up higher on Google because they’re getting the links that do follow links from our directory. So that’s just a quick overview about it. You know, JurisOffice, Matthew.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s awesome. I like two things that you said there. One, the first thing is the, the affordability of it and the accessibility of it compared to some of the more leading directories like like Avvo and Justia, FindLaw, and some of those other ones, which, you know, I think those are good ones, but there’s really, you don’t see a lot of variety in terms of like really decent directories, that can give you some value to aren’t like outrageously expensive. So that’s really cool for solo law firms who are just kind of getting their feet wet and they, they want to do some marketing, they want to get some exposure online, but you know, there’s not always an affordable option, like you mentioned. And then the other thing was about the the thought leadership how you refer, you know, so someone may be looking for an attorney and think JurisOffice is a place that could help them when in fact, you’re the directory and not the law firm itself. And it gives attorneys a chance to to display some thought leadership, right, like if they have a profile on the site. You know, maybe either you can refer them to those attorneys or or they could answer questions on the on the platform. I know some other directories have that functionality. I’m not sure if yours will, but being able to email people or respond to their questions in some way if they come to JurisOffice first and then you guys know a better professional that they could connect with.

Luciano Oliveira

Yes, that’s a great idea. We are actually incorporating that as a feature. Right now. We are kind of doing You formally because like I said, you know, prospective clients, they do contact us. And of course, we bring up, you know, send this business to our subscribers, but we are incorporating such a feature where, you know, our prospective clients can come to the website, ask a question about their specific needs, and then our subscribers would naturally, you know, answer the question and hopefully you get the basis from this perspective.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s a great lead generator. So, Luciano, you kind of already answered this, but take me back to the beginning, when, when did you decide or what made you decide that you wanted to build this law firm directory?

Luciano Oliveira

Sure. He was back in in 2017. And I was basically setting up you know, my profile as an attorney, and I realized that like, they were, you know, these companies to these, a major, you know, directors, they were kind of, you know, asking too much. I understand that like law is I use a shield where you know attorneys they make you know some decent amount of money. So I kind of understand the price tag. But again like I said, this is not true for every attorney like there are attorneys who are not making that much money just raising money of course. Yeah immigration attorneys. There are attorneys who work with like you know, a social justice causes and they don’t know how to make a lot of money so 

Matthew Laurin

yeah, there’s a spectrum right I want to and there’s there’s a lot of money in the other end there’s there’s those that aren’t for sure. 

Luciano Oliveira

Exactly. And and there are so many attorneys you know, for a directory for a directory business to be profitable and actually make some decent amount of money. We don’t need to charge you like the in the in the hundreds of dollars, a range. I said, Listen, we have like a couple of thousand subscribers, you know, ping like that. to any bug someone, there would be some decent money and we can keep like a portion of this money as our profits. And we can see you improve, you know, the directory keep developing and we can deliver a lot of value to our subscribers. So that wasn’t me driver and I also have like a technology background. I work in, you know, like in the press as a consultant for KPMG. So, you know, this kind of technology business background was also, you know, pushing me to offer something, you know, technology oriented to the lawyers. And another thing jurists offices, not only for us attorneys is also for attorneys abroad. So that that’s another thing that comes probably from my background like I myself, I am an attorney, both in Brazil, and in Texas, right. So I have this kind of understanding that law that the legal profession He’s kind of global, particularly know if the globalization, there are many cross border cross border cases, you know, clients and not only business like you have companies doing business internationally, but you also have, you know, people with matters that are crossing borders. Just to give you an example, you’ll have like, you know, marriage and divorce cases with persons and even in different countries. So in order for a case like that to be done or to be taken care, you need an attorney with, you know, capacity of New York capacity in both countries. So that’s another differentiating show for a JurisOffice, because we give you an option to appear like multiple countries or you could even, you know, be showing your profile in different languages as well.

Matthew Laurin

Very cool, very cool, and it’s neat that you were able to kind of marry your your your passion Have law and technology and kind of build this thing and come out with it for attorneys who, you know, may not want to, you know, have this enormous price tag for for some, you know, for building their online presence basically. So it’s really cool that you’re able to serve that that market and do it in a way that kind of builds on your passions. A lot of people get to do that.

Luciano Oliveira

Thank you Matthew, A Matthew to draw a question, you know, for you like in terms of directories, as you have like a number of directories and you’re probably going to have new competitors in the near future. What would be your recommendation for a directory like ours? You know, which is like kind of, in the, you know, in the more beginning stage, what would you recommend for us to grow in terms of size in members and to be able to eventually compete with larger directories and More submissions.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s a great question. Um, I would say you know, the thing that strikes me right now after what you’ve described to me is just focusing on providing value for for the subscribers that you bring on board and how best Can you help them grow their businesses and I think once you start to establish that reputation, the word of mouth will start to build and you know other other marketing websites you know, like our own and other industry professionals will begin to say hey, this is a directory where people are getting a lot of value and and share it with their friends, but attorneys will share it with their colleagues and and other people in the industry and I think when you focus on the on the on the customer first and and your subscribers and you just focus on making a really great place for them to develop their online presence and build their practice and generate leads. I think the rest of that will come You know, you’ll start to you’ll start to see the the effect of that and Start to compete with some of the more well established directories out there. And then, you know, obviously promotion and marketing will come into play. But, you know, building that core reputation I think is really important.

Luciano Oliveira

I appreciate your recommendation and it makes sense because we cannot just compete based on cash flow. Yeah, worry, cash because like the larger directories, they really have a lot of cash word. But that’s not our, our, you know, our philosophy or philosophy is actually to deliver value. So, thank you for sharing sounds like we are on track.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah. And I feel like sometimes it’s, you’re in a better position competitive wise, to a larger business because, you know, you can offer that personal service and I think that’s something that larger organizations really struggle with once they grow too large. And you see that all the time with in any any kind of vertical, you know, once a business gets to a certain size, they kind of lose touch with being able to provide personalized service or high quality service to their clients. And I think you got that going for you right now.

Luciano Oliveira

Got it makes sense.

Matthew Laurin

Um, so, one final question that I have is what? What’s one piece of marketing advice that you’d give to, you know, new attorneys who are just starting their their private practice and wanting to market themselves in some way online? What kind of advice would you give to them? 

Luciano Oliveira

Oh, yeah, that’s a great question. One thing for new attorneys that I think it’s very difficult is like to have some budget for marketing. So I would say, you know, use social media as much as you can. Social media is three when it comes for you. So I would, you know, spent as much time on social media as possible and of course, like in a business related matter, right. You could be writing your opinion about you know, legal topics You know, thinking there are other, you know, platforms or even Facebook, I mean, you’re not providing advisory, you know, like you shouldn’t be providing advisory for free, but, you know, like, share your take on certain issues. And it’s not uncommon for, you know, new attorneys to acquire clients that we, because they get exposure, people know that you are journey. Maybe someone from your past, you know, learns about your practice, and they could hire, you know, basically to a post that you just did on LinkedIn or Facebook. Another thing is to really try to spend some money on the directories, the directories, they do work, and particularly the most affordable ones. There’s some free ones available right and later on, you can spend more money on the most expensive ones, but you get your name on the directories is Going Green, a lot of you know, is going to really help your own profile to appear when people are searching for you. If you’re not doing any force, like if you’re not on social media, if you don’t, if you’re if you don’t have your name into directories, when people try to find an attorney in your area, then you’re going to find you’re going to find someone else. And it could be a case of worth, I don’t know. $10,000. So, the first sight particularly for new solo attorneys, you know, what you’re spending money on marketing may sound like concert intuitive, but it’s not the keys. I mean, they should really, you know, try to have some budget, even if it’s not that much, but you spend on marketing, you know, to kind of jumpstart their careers.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, that’s great advice. And I like what you said there about spending time on social media and and engaging and, and talking with people I know I’ve seen attorneys be really successful at you know, picking a platform where they know their audiences president like Facebook, LinkedIn, like you said, or even any kind of legal forum where they know, consumers are looking for legal advice and just putting helpful advice out there or responding to questions or just trying to be helpful in some way. Obviously not giving legal advice. But, but But yeah, just answering questions as best as possible. And that kind of authority or thought leadership pays off in the future because you not only get exposure on those different websites, but people remember that, you know, they see the logo of your law firm or they see the the attorney name and like, I remember that guy, he helped me answer that question that one time or things like that. So yeah, that’s great advice. 

Luciano Oliveira

Absolutely. We are in New Times like to, you know, like 10 years ago, you would need to buy ads, you know, traditional ads, like all doors, we would need to like your name on the bus, right? You would need the Yellow Pages, you know, These are very expensive, like, you know, marketing strategies. And today, they don’t work as well as they work in like 10 years ago. So it’s actually, you know, like for new attorneys, you know, new solo attorneys like if they do their work in terms of marketing themselves, using social media, you know, directories, keeping themselves easy, like if you’re not handling a case, what else are you going to be doing? yourself, right? If you’re having any downtime in your hands use, you know, to market your services. So I think that today is maybe even easier to start a career as a solo attorney that he was like 10 or 20 years ago.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, the barriers to entry are definitely lower. We’ve been talking to Luciano Oliveira, Founder of JurisOffice.com Luciano, where can people go to learn a little bit more about the directory?

Luciano Oliveira

Well, if you’re ready to get your name in our directory reach is not a bad idea. I mean it’s fried, right? It doesn’t, it doesn’t get much better than that. So you can just go you know, on the top of our page the reason add your practice Okay, to the top right of our website, you just go over there and then you’re going to find a free rifle shooter you’re a new solo attorney and you see that this is a expansion that’s going to the end of the month and you just click on the sign up now and you can get your profile you in our website

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I got a pulled up right here. Can you see this? I got I got the site and this is the page you’re looking for. You can just click this sign up now button here and

Luciano Oliveira

yeah, get get yourself in our directory. Once you see the results. You can migrate, you know, to a paid plan. If you also need some tips. I’m really happy you know, to answer your questions. We have a team of course, we have other people in our staff, but I myself really liked This idea of helping you know new lawyers. So if you have any specific questions about our directory or some tips on how to get started, we for marketing, you can send an email to, you know, info at JurisOffice.com. You can send it to my name, you can see attention to Luciano Oliveira and we can engage in a conversation, just like you said in Matthew, like we are, you know, like a smaller company. So, and I’m really happy and I feel fortunate to engage in a conversation with our members.

Matthew Laurin

Awesome. That’s so cool. Thanks for showing people the site and I appreciate you being on the show today.

Luciano Oliveira

There wasn’t an opportunity for us. Thank you very much, Matthew.

Conclusion 

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.

2 Tactics for Faster Exposure in Search

August 5, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

Matthew Laurin is the President of Esq.Marketing, a company that helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search engine marketing.

Matthew has been in the SEO business for over ten years. He possesses a long track record of repeatable success, achieving maximum ROI for SEO Campaigns and leading teams to execute simple yet effective campaign strategies.

 

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

  • Mathew Laurin talks about the first shortcut you should use to rank your law firm for competitive keyword phrases.
  • Matthew lists his favorite directories.
  • How directories help your law firm rank locally.
  • Matthew talks about using Google My Business to rank your law firm.
  • A bonus tip to better your law firm’s rankings.

In this episode…

SEO is a marathon, but there are things you can do to get quick results without running out of breath. According to Matthew Laurin of Esq.Marketing, there are a few short steps you can take to increase your law firm’s ranking, like claiming your profile on directories that already rank for competitive keyword phrases that show purchase intent. Done correctly, and in addition to the other smart shortcuts Matthew shares, you may be able to get your firm to rank locally for buyer intent keyword phrases in your practice area.

Learn more about the two shortcuts you can take today to rank your law firm in this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin. Matthew talks about how to use directories to rank your law firm, which directories are worth your time, leveraging Google My Business, and more.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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

 

Episode Transcript

Prologue

You’re listening to the Esq.Marketing podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, where he features successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Now, let’s get started with the show.

Matthew Laurin

Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature a successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. I have Jeremy Weisz here who has done thousands of interviews of successful entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs. And we have flipped the script and he will be interviewing me today,

Jeremy Weisz

Matthew, thanks for having me. You know, you’d like a radio voice. It sounds like official when you’re talking. I want to we have a cool episode, which is top two shortcuts to rank if you’re a law firm. Alright, so any your law firm out there? You should be listening to this episode. And I’m excited because obviously, that you and I both know this applies to a lot of different industries, but a lot of different types of law firms. It doesn’t matter what kind of law firm you are. So stay tuned for that. But this episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing. You can go to esq.marketing, they’ve been doing this stuff for 10 years. Okay, so Enough said they help law firms generate more clients in cases using search marketing. So I learned a lot just listening to you, Matt. So we’ll dig in. But if they have questions, they can go to E S Q dot marketing and contact you and in the team there, of course. So top two shortcuts to rank if you’re a law firm.

Matthew Laurin

Yes, yeah. And I hate to call them shortcuts because there’s really no shortcut in SEO. But there are some things you can do that can get you some exposure a little bit faster, while you’re kind of working on on your organic rankings for the site. And yeah, happy to share them with you.

Jeremy Weisz

So there’s gonna be a bonus one, I say two, but there’s a third but what’s the first one?

Matthew Laurin

So a lot of times when there are Competitive keyword phrases. The first couple of sites to show up in organic search results are the really authoritative directories. And if you’re an attorney, you kind of know what those are already. It’s like justia.com, avvo.com, and FindLaw. There’s a couple other ones too. But those are the three most prominent one you always see in organic search results when you’re looking for purchase intent keyword phrases that are, you know, like, from driving lawyers or distracted driving lawyers or Motorcycle Accident Lawyers or attorneys, you know, some of the more generic keyword phrases that are really hard to rank for. And they, they they show that the searcher is looking for attorneys, attorneys in their areas, you tend to see those directories show up first. And I’ve heard attorneys not really want to participate in some of those directories sometimes because they think maybe it’s not worth their time or they’re trying to compete with those sites and trying to outrank them and it’s definitely good if you can try to get above those So people aren’t clicking on those results, they’re clicking on your site instead. But a lot of times, you know that it takes a long time to do that. So and there’s nothing wrong with developing profiles on those sites, because you can, it’s another channel for exposure. Google’s not always going to show like your website, and then your social profiles, and then other properties that you might own, they’re going to show varying results. So the searchers can get a good idea of what’s out there. And if you can develop profiles on on those leading directories, you can get some exposure a little bit quicker than if you were just focused on your site and focused on other properties, trying to get those to show up first. I mean, that’s the ultimate goal is to get your site to show up on the first page, but you can always expand your reach by by showing up on those directories too.

Jeremy Weisz

It’s like if you can’t beat them, join them like why try and fight it just they already built up tons of backlinks and authority. So yeah, just hop on there. Why not use it? Are there certain number that you decide okay? It’s not Not worth my energy, right? So if I said, okay Matt, I want to rank how many of these directories Should I go do so you’re like, Okay, Justia, Avvo, FindLaw, what are the other ones that maybe I should be thinking about if I if I want to just dedicate a little bit of time and more time into it.

Matthew Laurin

So there’s tons of them out there, but not all of them are that great. You can find some good lists online that that shows some of the top ones rankings.io has a good list. But I think we might actually have one on our blog too. But if you if you go to the blog up there at the top of the screen and then go to one of our posts, I think it’s a local SEO post down a little bit right there, scroll back up just a hair and says Local SEO For lawyers how to dominate and local search. And then scroll me about halfway down the page. And we keep a table on here of directories that are, you know the ones we’ve curated? a pretty long post. If you want to know anything about local SEO, you should go to this. This is the Bible there it is right there. So,

Jeremy Weisz

the EVO

Matthew Laurin

Martindale, LawyerLand, Nolo, lawyers.com is a good one, Best Lawyers, he.org. All these directories are really authoritative, good places to get, get links and build out profiles. Now. It’s not enough to just go on there put in a picture put in a link to your site and your title and maybe a couple other bits of information. I’m trying to fill out these profiles as robustly as possible. When Google sees profiles that are kind of like sin in nature, they don’t have a lot of information, they tend not to get crawled very frequently. So the more information you can add, the better if you can add your social profiles and really Long Description, you know, maximize whatever character limit they have available. Make sure you put in all your awards. Anytime you’re, if you have like a blog or if there’s a spot for blog posts, put those in profile images for your firm’s logo, things like that. Just fill it out as as completely as possible.

Jeremy Weisz

Yeah, have someone from your team do it? I mean, yeah, yeah, no to do it, they could build it out. And it could be really good. And you could see like, these huge, you know, authority, you know, authority sites.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, the DR on those, which stands for domain rating is just a measure of how authoritative a domain is. And it’s a metric between zero and 100. Or the closer to 100. The domain is, the more authoritative it is. So to put that in context, Facebook might be at like a 98 or a 95. So these are all pretty authoritative sites. 

Jeremy Weisz

Is this a loophole, Cornell University where you can get into their directory because I’m going to go there today afterwards. I’m gonna say that video sites are like really hard to come by

Matthew Laurin

that’s attached to Justia. So if you fall claim your profile and just do which is kind of tricky to do you have to verify via email or via phone with their website to make sure you and and that profile information will actually get ported over to lawyers.cornell.edu. So it’s kind of a dual. That’s huge. Yeah. Yeah, it’s a really good link. Well, it’s free. It’s free to do do it today.

Jeremy Weisz 

I’m going to do it.

Matthew Laurin

A law firm, but yeah, you gotta be an attorney. But Oh, forget that.

Jeremy Weisz

Anything else with directories that people should know about? Or think about?

Matthew Laurin

You know, just don’t don’t shy away from them. Sometimes there’s some information out there about directories being spammy and there are for sure. A lot of directories that are not worth your time. But if you go to our site and you check out that list, anything on there is going to be good. And then if you’re only going to focus on a few of them, the leading ones, like Justia, FindLaw, NOLO, are great to develop profiles on, get reviews on them, you know, as part of your review campaigns, if you have them, and just fill them out,

Jeremy Weisz

really, why don’t we go over that a little bit about I know, we did a search for drunk driving lawyers as an example. Do you want to point a few things out here? Should we wait till the second?

Matthew Laurin

No, this is fine. Yeah. So like I was talking about earlier where, for some, a lot of keyword phrases, directories will be some of the first organic results to show up and you can see it in this search right here. So after the ads in the map pack, the first organic listing to show up is a directory, justia.com for that keyword phrase. And then and then you got Lawinfo that’s actually a directory and then Avvo after that, and then FindLaw for that. So the first page there, I mean, there’s there already. Yeah, there are, there’s already four listings there, of directories. And you, you can certainly go after that keyword phrase, if that’s, you know, an area of practice area that you’re going after. But it will take some time and a lot of effort and investment to to outrank these sites, because they’ve already got the authority and they’ve already been doing it. But you can create a profile on there, make sure your categories are, you know, in this case, we for criminal defense, make sure you’re in that category, make sure you have those keyword phrases in your profile somewhere and you you may be able to show up on those pages in advance of being able to outrank any of these sites on the first page. Got it?

Jeremy Weisz

So that’s directories. And so what’s the next one?

Matthew Laurin

I don’t know what is the next one? So the next one to talk to shortcuts Google My Business? Yeah. Yeah. And just to preface this, it’s not necessarily any kind of faster way to get rankings but it is a key way to get a lot of exposure a lot quicker than ranking in the organic results on the first page. So the the directory we’re talking about, which is actually a popular business directory is Google My Business. So claiming your Google My Business profile as an attorney, and you know, completing that profile to the best of your ability and making sure all the information is in there as a great way to to show up on the first page for your keyword phrases in your geographic location, so long as you optimize it, as long as you get some decent reviews on there and you continue to work on it. add lots of images, add video if you have it. Choose your category.

Jeremy Weisz

You can and this is where they’re gonna show up, they’re gonna show up kind of in this map area right here,

Matthew Laurin

that map here. Yep, so that’s known as the mat pack. The local three pack is what they call it. Now, it used to be many more listings. I think they had seven in there a while back. And now that they’ve narrowed it down to three, there are four in here, but one of them’s an ad, you know? And so, yeah, I mean, this is a way you can show up on the first page relatively easily just by claiming the profile, optimizing it, and getting some reviews. 

Jeremy Weisz

Okay, so we have the directories and then we have Google My Business because again, like you’re using the leverage of these other engines have been building up. 

Matthew Laurin

Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, Google has a vested interest in showing people relevant local information. And attorneys often serve local audiences. I mean, they’re geographically constrained, no one’s going to go outside of their state to find an attorney. For the most part, they’re going to look in their local area. And if they’re searching online, this is what Google is going to show them. They’re going to show them places that are close to them, their top three ranking factors for local or distance, prominence and relevance. And you can control the relevance and the prominence of the listing by optimizing it and by building links to your site. But the distance is the one thing you can’t control. But as long as they’re in your area searching for your law firm, and you have a decent profile, it’ll, it’ll show up in search. Yeah.

Jeremy Weisz

And so like, basically, I mean, if you look at this, there’s ads, then there’s the local Google my map, right? And then there’s directories. So if you actually you have to, you know, I guess participate a bit if you really want to get in there. And then there’s maybe like an off so you know, people always ask you all the time, Matt, like how much does it cost for SEO? And obviously the answer is it depends. But you can see, I think is this one. A separate site the drunk dash driving calm is that someone’s actually law firm.

Matthew Laurin

That’s Probably a law firm. And there are, depending on the keyword phrase and its volume and competitiveness, there are firms that are that are out ranking the directory sites. And it is possible that we’ll rank them. But But yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s a no brainer to sign up for some of these because it’s either really low cost or it’s free. And you can you can get a presence on there early on, and get a link to your site. And that’s just another mention of your firm name, or your attorney name on the internet, another channel for you to be exposed in search, when people are looking for services in your practice area.

Jeremy Weisz

But I’m sure this person has spent a lot of time energy and money getting to this position. I imagine,

Matthew Laurin

I would imagine. Yeah. And I know we kept the domain for it. I know we kind of just picked drunk driving lawyers out of the air. So I’m not sure what the search volume is on that but, you know, if it’s a really competitive keyword phrase, and this person is on the first page for it, there’s a really good chance they spent a lot of time and money Trying to rank for that. Yeah.

Jeremy Weisz

And so anything else on the I have one last I want to talk about the bonus one. Oh, yeah, I was joking around with you. But anything else that you can think of with the directory or the Google my map?

Matthew Laurin

I just don’t Google My Business or my business. Yeah, just focused on getting reviews. For the category for attorneys. Just make sure you pick a really specific category. Don’t just pick attorney if you’re a personal injury attorney, there’s actually a category for personal injury attorneys. If you’re a criminal defense, there’s a category for criminal defense. So make sure you pick a specific category and then fill out that profile as completely as possible.

Jeremy Weisz

Nice. So um, check that out. If you have other questions, you can you know, check out their site, Esq.Marketing, check out more podcasts episodes, and their blog. The bonus and when I was joking around, I was sort of joking. I wasn’t really there’s a bonus one of how to rank a shortcut to rank and One of it is how do you get in other sites? And how do you get backlinks? One of them is actually podcasting. That’s for sure. So Esq.Marketing podcast well, so I was just saying like, actually, if you get an E S Q marketing podcast, well, you know, I know you guys syndicate this to, you know, over a dozen different channels with the links to their website and all those things. So that’s a real way to get backlinks and ranking too,

Matthew Laurin

right? Yeah, for sure. I mean, we we work really hard to try to rank our own site for attorney marketing related phrases, so it gets a decent amount of exposure. And yeah, every time we produce a podcast, we promoted on our social channels, a lot of paid advertising a lot of email. So I mean, it can’t hurt can’t hurt. Yeah, it’s free to do

Jeremy Weisz

yeah. So if you are a law firm, and I mean, I know they’re they’re picky with, they don’t shoot they can’t use everyone because obviously is limited amount of episodes and time but if you’re a law firm and You want to be on and share your expertise. You can also go to esq.marketing and contact them and, and suggest yourself or suggest someone else that you know, know, any final words that you could think of?

Matthew Laurin

You know? Not really. Okay, we’re going to go by the questions.

Jeremy Weisz

No, I that was great. I mean, again like people want, what are the couple things that are at least going to move the needle and get them started with several things and I know you have abundance of resources on esq.marketing in the podcast too. So I encourage you to check it out. So thank you for having me. I really appreciate it and everyone check it out.

Matthew Laurin

Thank you, Jeremy.

Conclusion

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 Much Does SEO Cost?

August 5, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

 

Matthew Laurin is the President of Esq.Marketing, a company that helps law firms generate more clients and cases using search engine marketing.

Matthew has been in the SEO business for over ten years. He possesses a long track record of repeatable success, achieving maximum ROI for SEO Campaigns, and leading teams to execute simple yet effective campaign strategies.

 

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

  • Matthew Laurin talks about what SEO for your website requires.
  • The key factors that influence how your website ranks on Google.
  • How to determine the search term you should try to rank for.
  • Case study: what makes a site outrank its competitors?
  • What would it cost to rank your website?

In this episode…

The real cost of SEO is the cost of not having done it at all. When done right, your SEO strategy pays for itself and helps grow your firm. However, many people do it the wrong way: all too often, they pay top dollar to rank for popular terms in their niche but end up missing out on ROI.

Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing, says the most important element of SEO is ranking for terms that show purchase intent. In this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast with Matthew Laurin, Matthew is interviewed by Dr. Jeremy Weisz of Rise25 about the cost of SEO, how to determine the search terms you want to rank for, and more. If you’re interested in figuring out how to leverage SEO to grow your firm, keep listening.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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

 

Episode Transcript

Prologue

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

Matthew Laurin

Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.Marketing and you’re listening to the Esq.Marketing Podcast where I feature successful solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. Today, I have Jeremy Weisz here who has done thousands of interviews with successful entrepreneurs, investors and CEOs. We flipped the script today, and he will be interviewing me.

Jeremy Weisz

Matt, I totally appreciate you having me and I love always getting on the phone with you because you are a master at search engine marketing and getting the top of Google so whenever I can be on the call, so I can pick your brain I do that. Um, so I appreciate that. We’re Yeah, we’re going to talk about How much does SEO cost? How do you get to the top of the search engines? Before we talk about that, the episode is brought to you by Esq.Marketing, you know, Esq-dot-Marketing, which is the company, and you help law firms to generate more clients in cases using search marketing. And you’ve been doing it for, like, over 10 years, which is insane if people think of what the internet was 10 years ago. So you’ve been a pioneer of search engine marketing for a long time. So you get the question over and over. How do I get to the top of Google? How much does SEO cost? So I figured we could start there?

Matthew Laurin

That’s a good question. Yeah. And the fast answer that I tell everybody is it depends. Not always the answer people want to hear but it really depends on what it’s going to take to get that person market share in a search engine results page. So every site is different. Every niche is different. And then as it relates to the legal vertical, every practice area is different, so some are way more competitive than others. Then as it relates to an attorney’s websites, specifically, every site is different, right? Like some sites are brand new. Some sites have had SEO work done to them, others have not. And so it all depends on where that sits right now and how much work is going to take to get it to rank for the keyword phrases, and then how competitive those keyword phrases are, how much demand there is for them in search.

Jeremy Weisz

We’ll talk about some specific examples. So because you know, we will go pass it depends and go really deeper into that. But just in general, before we go into the specific examples, what factors are involved, like, what should people be thinking about? When, okay, what’s it going to take to rank?

Matthew Laurin

So, Google came out back in 2016, and said that the top two ranking factors were links and content. There’s, obviously hundreds of factors that Google takes into account when they rank a specific web page, but Those two are some of the leading contenders. So the amount of unique referring domains pointing at a website and the caliber of content that’s produced are the two things that attorneys need to be thinking about.

Jeremy Weisz

So thank you. I didn’t expect such a simple answer. I love that. That is 80/20. Right? Because there’s probably a million factors. But what you’re saying is you focus on the two top factors that really move the needle. So let’s talk about a search term, like an actual search term. So I don’t know if you want to share your screen and show what, what, yeah—

Matthew Laurin

I was just sharing it here before. Hope that’s okay. Yep. So I plugged in a search term for the Chicago area criminal defense attorney and usually, I mean, there’s probably search volume for criminal defense attorneys in Chicago, but a lot of people will use the offense in the search term to find lawyer. So in this case Chicago DUI lawyer is the one I plugged in here. Before I go to the example, the way I got here was we use a software called Ahrefs, where we can track keyword search volume. And anytime we do keyword research, we try to decide which keyword phrases the client should go after we we plug them into this software, and we try to see what has search volume, and we tried to find a balance between searcher intent and search volume so something doesn’t have any search volume, then it’s probably not worth going after to try to rank for it. And if something does have search volume, and it doesn’t have purchase intent, also probably not a good idea to go after it’s kind of that magic mix of you want to make sure that the person looking for your services is using a phrase that the indicates they want to they want to purchase or or even at the information stage of the funnel, but in this case, we use one with purchase intent. So Chicago DUI lawyer someone using this phrase is probably looking for an attorney to help them with a DUI offense. And as we can see right here, it’s got about 350 searches per month.

Jeremy Weisz

That’s a great distinction, Matt about purchase intent because I’ve had certain people come to me go, you know, you could rank for XYZ term, it gets searched X number of times, like, Whoa, Okay, that sounds good. But then I’m when you were talking about purchase, then I’m thinking, Oh, who cares how many searches that is? Right. You want someone who’s actually gonna get your services?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I mean, I’ve had a big part of my job is education. I’ve had people come to me and said, Hey, I want to rank you know, number one for this phrase, or I want to show up for the word lawyer or I want to show up for the word, attorney. And yeah, there’s tons of search volumes out there—

Jeremy Weisz

You’re like, why?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, exactly. It’s an extremely broad—

Jeremy Weisz

Does it make you want to throw your mind down the toilet?

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, you have no idea what that person wants. I mean, they may be looking for how to spell the word attorney. They may be looking for pictures of attorneys. They may be wanting to know what an attorney does. So you, you have no idea what the intent is. And the more the closer you can get to what the what the searcher is intending to find the better off. So that’s how I found the volume for this is in Ahrefs. plugged in the keyword phrase, they gave me the data on what it is. And so I use that example here in an incognito window in Chrome, because it doesn’t track my search behavior, my search history. And it’s not the most accurate way to find out what’s ranking first, but it’s a pretty accurate way to kind of check on the fly once what’s ranking. So I plug this in.

Jeremy Weisz

And, by the way, if someone is a criminal defense attorney or a lawyer and they want to rank for DUI, you should definitely listen closely to this because this is a highly, you know, this is like you were saying this is search. This is purchase intent.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, I mean, if you want to rank for DUI related terms in the Chicago area, this is the phrase one of the phrases you want to go after, and I’m going to tell you right now, why the results on the first page are there? Pretty much and there can be a lot of factors. But in general, we can narrow down pretty closely why the top sites are ranking in the first spots like they are. So the first four spots you see here are ads, obviously, and you could pay to get there. 

Jeremy Weisz

They’re probably expensive clicks, I imagine. 

Matthew Laurin

Ah, very expensive. Actually, the data in HREF shows me that too. So for this particular keyword phrase, you’re looking at about $35 a click if you were going to pay for it.

Jeremy Weisz

Someone clicks, boom, $35 gone.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, 35 bucks. Sounds great. So after the paid results, you have the Google Local pack, which is their top three local listings for their Google My Business results. These are the top three local listings. And you can also pay to get in here with paid ads, but these are organic ones right here. And then below that, we start to see our first organic listings now. The first couple of sites that are ranking are attorney directories. So Findlaw, Justia, those are two really popular attorney directories. And the reason these ones show up first is the domains are extremely authoritative. And I can show you what I mean by that. But I want to take an example. That’s not one of these bigger companies. That’s been around a while. So I took this. Let’s look at it’s Ktenas law, Ktenas law, Ktenas law. Hmm, probably not pronouncing that right.

Jeremy Weisz

By the way, there is a video if you’re listening to the podcast version. Matt will talk it through but you can watch the video on their website.

Matthew Laurin

Thanks for that, Jeremy. So I took this domain right here and I plugged it back into the same software HREF which gives me a snapshot of this attorney’s LinkedIn profile. So the quantity and quality of referring domains pointing at this website and all the information that goes along with that. So I plug that in here and there’s a lot of things at the top here, and there’s some key data that I look at that kind of indicates to me why this attorney might be ranking on the first page for this term, as opposed to other competitors. And some of the information that I pick out first is the site’s domain rating, which is a rating between zero and 100. That gives a quick snapshot of how authoritative the domain is. And to put that into context: a site like Facebook might be at a DR 98 of whitehouse.gov might be like a DR 92, or 90. And this particular site comes in at a DR 13. So it’s not extremely authoritative, but you can tell they’ve been doing some work to it. The other thing that I look at are the number of referring domains. So he has 110 unique referring domains pointing at his site. And so those two things together tell me they’ve been doing some work on the site and they’re starting to build some, you know, not a lot of links, but a decent amount of links to the site. They have one 1700 backlinks pointing at the site and then the other thing I look at is their traffic value in HREF. So that’s right now they’re bringing in about $10,000 worth of traffic value. And what that means is, if they were going to try to get the same exposure in organic search, without ranking organically for it, they’d have to pay this much to Google on a, probably a monthly basis, to which activity. And so I take, I take these metrics, and I kind of look at them and see, okay, this is this is where the site says now if you take another another competing site, and I’m going to go to the third page here, so third page of Google—

Jeremy Weisz

For the same search term, we’re looking, Chicago, DUI lawyer.

Matthew Laurin

And I’m going to grab this, so it’s Ivan Rueda. Hopefully, I’m pronouncing that right, is the DUI lawyer in Chicago. I take his domain and I plug it into the same software like as I pulled up over here. Now you can see a difference here already. So the domain rating is down a little bit. So the first one, I’m sorry, it’s exactly that but 13. But the other thing that’s down a little bit is the number of referring domains. So this site has 22 referring domains, whereas this site ranking on the first page has 110. So substantially more referring domains pointing at that one. And you can see his traffic value is substantially lower $135. And the reason that is is because, you know, he’s not, he’s not ranking on the first page for high volume keyword phrase, keyword phrases or keyword phrases that would cost a lot per click to, to rank on the first page for so there are other factors at play here, I can see it right off the bat that he you know, doesn’t have a security certificate installed on a site he maybe the content is not as relevant or it’s not as in depth as the first page result. But overall, the backlink profile is not as strong as the top, the top ranking site or the site on the first page. We can go even further here to a little bit if you if we go back to the first page and we grab one of these top ranking directories. So from the example, FindLaw. This is FindLaw’s DUI page. So they just have listings of attorneys who are DUI lawyers. Just going to grab the root domain and put it into this software. And then you’ll see why this one first. Sorry, that kicked out there.

Jeremy Weisz

So just to talk through all your, you’re going there. So it’s interesting because you have the ads, then you have the directories and you have the organic rankings. And then it really doesn’t seem like it’s that far off. Like that third page person. It seems like they’re almost within striking distance. I mean, it’s Yeah, seemed crazy to like, get to his work. 

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, if you dig a little deeper, you can look at top pages in HREF. And you can see what pages are kind of close to or yeah, what kind of what pages are kind of close to the first question. Pay to Google for various keyword terms and in with a concerted effort of building links and improving on site optimization, you can move the needle you know over time doesn’t happen instantly, but over the course of a few months, you can definitely move the needle. So, I put this findlaw website into HREF. And you can see right here at the DR 90 substantially more than those other terms are those other sites and in the number of unique referring domains 14,000 unique referring domain. So pretty much with any legal related search term, the legal directories like FindLaw, Justia, do some of the other ones, Martindale-Hubbell. Those show up on the first spot, mainly because of this in this data, because because they have so many unique referring domains pointed out and because their DR rating is so high, they’re just very authoritative, very popular sites on the internet.

Jeremy Weisz

Are there any other ones besides those FindLaw? Just do, what were the other ones?

Matthew Laurin

FindLaw, just the Martindale-Hubbell. Sometimes, let me see here.

Jeremy Weisz

So do, do lawyers typically get on all of them, or some of them, only on certain ones?

Matthew Laurin

Some yeah, some attorneys. Usually when we start working with clients, sometimes they’ve already done some of the ,we call it low-hanging fruit. So joining attorney directories like Super Lawyers, FindLaw, Justia, claiming your profiles on those, sometimes they’ve already done that. So, but other times we work with clients who, maybe they are just getting started, and they haven’t had a chance to do that, or they weren’t aware that claiming the profile was so beneficial. Yeah, I mean, claiming those profiles is one of the first things we do for a lot of clients if they don’t have them already. Because you can. If you choose a category on those sites, and you fill out the profile, every single field that’s available on it, you tend to rank in those pages that show up for those keyword phrases. So even if you aren’t ranking on the first page, maybe you’ll show up in the profile listings of those Yeah, directory site. Super Lawyers was the other one I was thinking of. It’s just down here further on the page. Got it.

Jeremy Weisz

So you’re mentioning the difference there? It seemed like those directories had much higher numbers.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, yeah. So they’re just much more authoritative. They just have way more sites linking to them. And overall, they’re just much more authoritative sites, which is why they tend to rank in the top spots right underneath the local pack. So it’s not to say that getting a higher Dr. And getting more referring domains is going to guarantee you a first page spot or guarantee you over competitors. But in our experience, most of the time when we try to compare why competitors are out ranking a site, it’s usually because they have more unique referring domains they have a higher domain rating than their competitors. Do—

Jeremy Weisz

Man I like that answer a lot more than just it depends because you can really see it depends on the keyword, like, if you want a certain keyword depends, what’s it gonna take? And then what the the, you know, the top people in Google, what it’s going to take to kind of overcome them and the work it’s going to take for it could just depend on even a keyword that you’re trying to rank for.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah. And so and as it relates to the question about costs, like, if I don’t know anything about a site, I’ll have to, you know, just give wild estimates. It’s like, Yeah, it really depends on what the condition of your site is. So if we go back to that first example, with the domain rating of, you know, what was it 13 on the person on the third page? You can see, Nope, sorry, I got kicked out again. You can see that, you know, to increase the number of referring domains, it’s gonna take a lot of manual work. So a lot of manual outreach to other websites, emailing webmasters, coming up with unique campaigns to try to get a foot in the door to ask them for a link to your site. Claiming attorney directories, claiming social directories, building citations, all of those things take a lot of time, which translates to a lot of costs. So the more the fewer referring domains on the the less authoritative a site is, the more effort and time it takes to get it to the first page, because you have to increase those numbers, you have to, to increase the number of referring domains pointing at the site, along with all the other odd site work that it would take to to optimize an attorney’s website. So once I see that data, I can give a more accurate estimate to them as what it’s going to cost on a monthly basis to get them where they want to be. And sometimes an attorney site may have a lot of referring domains already, maybe it’s just a lot of on site work that needs to happen in order for them to rank better, and it may not cost as much whereas on the you know, conversely, if it’s a brand new site and they have no referring domains pointing it may cost, you know, several thousand dollars a month to to get that site ranking you know in a six, an eight month time period.

Jeremy Weisz

Now where can people contact you? How can they contact you? Where can they find out more?

Matthew Laurin

You can find out more at Esq.Marketing, that’s our site and you can contact me directly at Matthew@esq.marketing

Jeremy Weisz

And I’m just I don’t Matt is not right here. Matt has not agreed to do this, but I’m going to put him on the spot for a second. He chose a lot of money to do consulting and things but I’m gonna say contact him he may or may not depending if he listens to me do like a free audit or some kind of audit to show you kind of where your specific firm is ranking on all these factors and, and actually explain some of the things that you can do. 

Matthew Laurin

So, you know what, Jeremy. since if they’re listening to this podcast, and they mention it when they reach out to me, I will, I’ll do that. That’s something that we usually sell for about $1500 as a comprehensive on site and all site audit of a website. But yeah, if you listen to the podcast—

Jeremy Weisz

If you listen this far, I’m gonna say you get to you deserve to get get that I guess I didn’t even realize how much you charged I figured you did because it’s a really comprehensive, so.

Matthew Laurin

Yeah, we do. I mean, we’ll do a brief overview when we do a proposal because it doesn’t take that much information to kind of understand what it will take to gain market share, but to you know, the audit is a different animal. It’s pretty much a blueprint for what you need to do to achieve first page rankings. And so you don’t take something like that. And either do it yourself which is a lot of work or give it to internal marketing person or a freelancer and say, Hey, do all this stuff that Yeah, and you could you could achieve first page ranking or someone who’s actually done it before always works. Yeah, there is an artistic style to it. So but yeah, if you listen to the podcast and have an interest in growing your law firm, using search, contact me, mention the podcast, and we’ll get you an audit.

Jeremy Weisz

Cool. Thanks for having me.

Matthew Laurin

No problem, buddy. Thanks for being on. Appreciate it.

Conclusion

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.

The Truth About Starting and Marketing Your Law Firm

July 15, 2020
By: Matthew Laurin

 

Bert Polito is the Principal of the personal injury law firm, Polito & Harrington, LLC. Bert has been a practicing attorney in Connecticut and Rhode Island for over three decades. He’s received several awards throughout his exemplary career, including the Lawyer of the Year award by Best Lawyers in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. Bert is also a fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.

 

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

  • Getting to know Bert Polito
  • What does Polito & Harrington, LLC specialize in?
  • Bert talks about his process starting his own law firm
  • The turning point in the law firm’s marketing process
  • The software tool Bert is using to run his law firm more effectively
  • What do you do when a challenge like COVID-19 hits?
  • Bert’s advice to lawyers going into private practice for the first time

In this episode…

Founding and running your own law firm is defined in part by a steep learning curve. It can be discouraging at the beginning of the process, but those who succeed are those who are willing to collaborate and learn from people who know more than they do.

In this episode of the Esq.Marketing Podcast hosted by Matthew Laurin,you’ll hear from Bert Polito,  Principal at Polito & Harrington, LLC, as he talks about what it was like when he first started his law firm and what a lawyer starting today should do to scale their practice.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

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

 

Episode Transcript

Prologue

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

[Matthew Laurin]:

Hey, I’m Matthew Laurin, President of Esq.marketing, and you’re listening to the Esq.marketing Podcast, where I feature successful Solo and SMB law firms from all over the United States. This episode is brought to you by Esq.marketing. We help law firms generate more clients and cases using search engine marketing. Speaking of successful lawyers, today, I have Personal Injury Lawyer, Bert Polito, of Polito & Harrington LLC.
Bert has been a practicing attorney in Connecticut and Rhode Island for over three decades. Among other accolades throughout his career, he has been named Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers for 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. As well as a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. Bert, welcome to the show.

[Humbert Polito]:

Thank you, Matthew. Good to be here.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Awesome good to have you. Bert, let’s just get started with an easy one. Tell me a little bit about your firm. What kind of cases do you guys focus on?

[Humbert Polito]:

Matthew, I have a partner, James Harrington. We’re a two-attorney firm focused exclusively on Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Litigation. As you said, we practice in Connecticut and in Rhode Island. James is also admitted in Massachusetts, and in Connecticut, we have two large tribal-owned casinos that have their own court system.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Cool.

[Humbert Polito]:

We also practice in those tribal courts as well.

[Matthew Laurin]:

That’s extremely interesting. So, there’s the PI side of it, and then there’s the tribal law. I’ve not really seen a lot of lawyers involved in that part.

[Humbert Polito]:

Right. Yeah, and you might imagine there are a number of incidents that can occur at casinos by visitors from really all-over New England. So, if to the extent those people sustain some sort of life-changing injury, we’ve represented them as well.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Gotcha, gotcha. That’s really neat.

[Humbert Polito]:

Yeah.

[Matthew Laurin]:

So, take me back to the beginning, Bert. I mean, you’ve obviously been practicing for a long time. What was it like in the beginning just starting off your law firm?

[Humbert Polito]:

I should tell you, Matthew, that I had the good fortune of meeting a lawyer who was a practicing attorney when I was in law school who had his own Law Firm, and he invited me to join his firm. So, I practiced with him for over 16 years, and really that was a great experience. He and his partner were excellent mentors to me. I learned a lot about the actual trying of cases, and I’m really grateful to them to this day.
What was interesting is that about 16 years into that work, I came kind of a watershed moment and that for me was I had a certain desire to start my own law firm, and it took some deep thought talking to people who I trust and basically took a deep breath and said, “I’m going to do it.”
I think I realized at that point a lot of us who do what we do have a certain entrepreneurial spirit. You know that desire just to start your own shop and to make it yours. I had very much respected what the people I worked with had created, and now, it was my opportunity to do the same, but it wasn’t done without some trepidation. It’s a risk. I had a good solid situation where I was, but I wanted to build something that was more in my own vision. You know?

[Matthew Laurin]:

You’d already been practicing for 16 years when you did that?

[Humbert Polito]:

That’s right.

[Matthew Laurin]:

In the 90s – early 2000s?

[Humbert Polito]:

Exactly right, exactly right. So, I did reach out to someone with whom I had worked, and he joined me. I will say, starting out, we were fortunate because a number of the folks I had been representing previously came with me, but it still, there was so many basic things we had to develop and work very hard to do. I will tell you, that’s probably where fortunately some good life experience I already had kicked in.
You and I have spoken before. I mean, one of the unique things about me that I’m very proud of is I’m one of 12 children.

[Matthew Laurin]:

I love big families. That’s so cool.

[Humbert Polito]:

Yeah, and when I look at my own life and think about certain qualities that have been important to me running a law firm, I realize I was fortunate enough to learn certain things before I ever walked out the front door of my house. You know?

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

You don’t take certain things for granted. You do have to work hard for what you get. You learn to be grateful. You kind of have to figure out early on what matters the most and what matters the least, and you have to be resilient because things don’t always go your way, and you have to be able to collaborate to work with people. So, a lot of those things kicked in, I think in starting my own firm, and I think those have served me well.
So, if I could encourage a younger lawyer, or a lawyer thinking about doing this to just remember those things. It’s going to be hard, and you can’t take anything for granted. You’re really going to have to work very, very hard. The other thing I just learned is to reach out to people who knew more than I did about certain things.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Very true, very true.

[Humbert Polito]:

Fortunately, people were more than willing to share their knowledge, and I benefited
from that. So, that process continues to this day.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah. I know, I’ve experienced that in running this agency a lot, and even in my former role with rankings. It’s easy when you run a business on your own to want to just do everything yourself because nobody does it like you, but then it is hard to admit when you need to reach out and find expertise in other areas, but then when you do, it pays good dividends because there’s always something that you’re not totally the best at, and having that outside help can really, really help excel your growth.

[Humbert Polito]:

That’s right. Exactly right, yeah. There’s a certain humility I think that comes with knowing as a leader you don’t have to do everything. In fact, as a leader, one of the things you realize is what you’re not good at and finding and surrounding yourself with people who are good at those things. And having hopefully, the wisdom and the humility to say, “This person can really do that and really run with it, and that’s what I need.” I’ve been fortunate because I have been able to surround myself with some real quality people, and I think that’s another really important aspect of moving forward.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Agreed, agreed. Bert, in your years of experience, what’s been the best, or not the best, but maybe like the most effective strategy or tactic that you’ve used to grow the law firm or get more leads or just grow the business?

[Humbert Polito]:

Right. Well, given my age, because I am somewhat older, Matthew I can tell you that I probably reflect a transition point for a lot of lawyers in the sense that I was raised in the law when one-on-one referrals were very much the way people did business. You developed a network of referring attorneys who didn’t necessarily do the kind of work that I did, and they would refer those matters to us, and that can be, and it remains very effective.
But I would say that probably the turning point was realizing that the world had moved from print to digital, and that may seem so fundamental now, but there came a point, I remember, in one year many years ago, where we simply looked at what we budgeted for other sorts of advertising, and a lot of it was print. It was so clear that we simply needed to move that to digital advertising.

[Matthew Laurin]:

What year do you think that was?

[Humbert Polito]:

That was, for us, I would say we were a little later because we were having a fair amount of success in the more traditional model.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

Because we valued our reputation, and I think we were respected for what we did. So, those sorts of referrals were coming, but I would say just within the past 10 to 15 years, really.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Okay, okay.

[Humbert Polito]:

You know, that recent. I had the good fortune of reaching out to someone locally in Connecticut, who was someone who mentored other folks and encouraged me to think SEO and think search engine work and referred me to someone who ultimately was very helpful to me. Then, in turn, introduced me to you.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Okay.

[Humbert Polito]:

So, I will tell you that, that was so clear to me, and it’s something I’m very, very grateful for.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah. It’s amazing how much it snowballed. When you say, “The past 15 years,” it sounds about right because I mean even though the internet was alive and well at the turn of the millennium, a lot of people didn’t start taking it seriously until later on and you know, 2005-2006, and later, and I mean, it’s just it’s growing exponentially now. There’s still holdouts, but I agree too to your point about referrals. We developed really strong referral networks for our agency, and that’s still a really great way to get businesses is just developing relationships. Even in the work that we do, in helping rank client websites, relationships are extremely important.

[Humbert Polito]:

That’s right.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Because it’s just gotten very sophisticated, but that’s cool. That’s really great. I think you’ve kind of touched on this a little bit, but what are some tools or software that you’ve used throughout your career that has really been essential life-saving tools? I know there’s a lot of chat. There’s a lot of case intake software, business management software—things like that. What’s been kind of like a mainstay for you or something that’s really helped run your law firm more efficiently?

[Humbert Polito]:

Well, it’s interesting. We, again, maybe because we had some success early on, we developed our own organic kind of management software.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Okay.

[Humbert Polito]:

But over time, that universe has exploded as you know.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

There’s a lot of competition, a lot of people in that space and we have moved recently to a new management software which we’re excited about. I think there’s a lot of good products out there, but I do think that in order really to have a better handle on what’s going on in your own firm and how to measure what’s going on and identify trends, I think that’s really important. So, I would say that.
In terms of social media, again, people are all very different about that. The one thing I would say is that I am completely convinced now that those are the places where we need to be more active, so we’re trying, and made commitments to place ourselves through the help of others with information about ourselves in various forms of social media. That’s how we’re pivoting increasingly. We’ve made a commitment to do that, and we want to do that. I mean, that’s just the way that the world has moved. If that makes—

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely shifting that way. For the management software, did you go with like Clio or one of those?

[Humbert Polito]:

We went with a product called CloudLex.

[Matthew Laurin]:

CloudLex, okay.

[Humbert Polito]:

Which is very much focused on Plaintiff’s Personal Injury.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Okay.

[Humbert Polito]:

I think as they say, there’s a number of good products out there, but this one tends to be more focused on that. It’s interesting. We had just made a commitment to do that just prior. We’re having this discussion during COVID-19.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

Prior to that, we had made a commitment to move in that direction. All our matters were being migrated, so to speak, into that system just as COVID-19 hit. What it allowed us to do, though, was to pivot more nimbly, so to speak, to working in a remote capacity.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Did that kind of ease the transition?

[Humbert Polito]:

It has, and there’s been a sense in which COVID-19, it’s been very painful in so many ways for a lot of people, but for those of us, fortunately, have been able to stay healthy, it’s given us some pause time. You know?

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

To kind of maybe rethink.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

And pivot in a different direction, so the timing, in that sense, has been helpful.

[Matthew Laurin]:

That’s cool. It’s cool to hear that. It’s one of my favorite things about business is just how, you know, all businesses, not just law firms, can be so organic and change the way they behave to adapt to market conditions. If you had to give advice to another law firm who was struggling during this time like if they couldn’t find a way to adapt and change their business to be successful in the time of COVID-19. What kind of advice would you give them?

[Humbert Polito]:

The thing that I have heard, and I do believe in is that any time when a challenge hits, when struggles occur. That’s kind of where some things kick in from very basic lessons I learned growing up. Which is now it’s the time to be resilient. Now it’s the time to work harder. Now it’s the time to maybe think out of the box for yourself. I mean, for me, moving from printed digital was really thinking out of the box.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

It may have been obvious to other people. So, this might be a time when instead of pulling back. Yeah, and again, this is not my own idea. I’ve heard this from a number of sources. Now is the time to commit yourself to a new strategy. To commit yourself to SEO or to commit yourself to more presence on social media. Instead of pulling back and retreating, be strong, and the phrase I’ve heard is put your foot on the pedal. You know?

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

I think that makes a lot of sense. Our instinct is to pull back.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

But I think the world we live in that doesn’t work. The truth is people in my life and in your life when we’ve encountered challenges, that’s not what we’ve done. We’ve faced them and tried to deal with them. It just might mean thinking out of the box a little bit.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah. Yeah. I like, and as I told you, I have a lot of kids, and I know you come from a large family. That’s kind of one of the things I’ve told them growing up because there’s always challenges in sharing resources and having to empathize with others in larger families, and I think that is going to help them succeed later on in life. Maybe that was your experience, where maybe you were forced early on to have to adapt.

[Humbert Polito]:

Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, because we care about the people in our lives. We want to do things for them, but sometimes I have to be reminded to pull back, and where did we gain our strength from, right?

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah.

[Humbert Polito]:

And that’s a good thing. That’s a good thing.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah, yeah. That’s cool. I have one final question for you, Bert, and you kind of touched on this a little bit too. If you were talking to a lawyer going into private practice for the first time. What’s one piece of advice you’d give them?

[Humbert Polito]:

You know, it’s interesting because I’ve been teaching at the UConn Law School for the past 20 years. So, I have these young lawyers in front of me a lot.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Oh, so you probably have lots of advice to tell them.

[Humbert Polito]:

Yeah. Well, you know what I try to say to them, and I think about this for myself, Matthew, is trying as best you can, and this is going to take some time finding the right fit for yourself. Because I do believe to some extent, there’s a lot of things we can learn, and we can change, and we can adapt in certain skills, but I think all of us have a certain temperament called a gift. A certain talent to really move powerfully in a certain direction, and if you can find that out that kind of those areas where you really find the most passion, joy. You know, where things kind of click for you. Try to find them because it can be tough when you see someone practicing, and you can tell they’re just kind of running up against their own instincts. It’s just not something that’s they feel really very good about, and it really varies.

Again, going back to my family. One of the cool things about a big family is that you can look around before you leave the house and see there’s a lot of different personalities—a lot of different styles. What works for one person is not going to work for somebody else. What I am doing, you know, practicing. This is the right fit for me because it allows me to fight for people. To help people. It’s very person oriented. It’s kind of a manageable scale that I like. That might not be the right thing for somebody right next door or even someone close to me.

So, what I would say to them is spend some time trying to figure that out. That might mean a few different stops and starts in terms of trying different workplaces, but ultimately, try to find them. Because I think if you find them, you’re going to have a lot more satisfaction, and you’re just going to be better at what you do. So, that’s what I often encourage the students to do. It might not be your first job. It might take you a little bit of time to figure that out.

[Matthew Laurin]:

That is for sure, and that’s great advice. We’ve been listening to Bert Polito of Polito & Harrington. Bert, where can people go to learn more about your firm?

[Humbert Polito]:

We are located in Waterford, Connecticut, and we’re happy to have people reach out to us. You should be able to find us. We’re at www.PolitoLaw.com, and Matthew, it’s good to talk to you. Good to be able to share some thoughts.

[Matthew Laurin]:

Yeah. That’s awesome, Bert. Thanks for being on the show.

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