In this episode, Joe Bahgat talks about how a shitty revenue month finally got him to start working on his entertainment law firm, Hub City Law Group, with help from How to Manage a Small Law Firm. Sam and Aaron discuss the value of business coaching and what it takes to get lawyers to think strategically about their law firms.

Joe Bahgat

Joe Bahgat is a saxophonist-turned-entertainment lawyer. After playing with Grammy award winners like Ray Charles and the Four Tops, Joe went to law school. Now, he represents artists and businesses in New Jersey and Ohio.

You can follow Joe on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Thanks to Ruby Receptionists and Xero for sponsoring this episode!

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Transcript

Announcer: Welcome to The Lawyerist podcast with Sam Glover and Aaron Street. Each week Lawyerist brings you advice and interviews to help you build a more successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market, and now here are Sam and Aaron.

Sam Glover: Hi I’m Sam Glover.

Aaron Street: And I’m Aaron Street and this is Episode 99 of The Lawyerist podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today we’re talking with Joe Bahgat about recovering from the shittiest month he ever had. Also, Sam, it’s episode 99.

Sam Glover: It’s episode 99, I’m excited for episode 100, which coincides with the end of the year, which is pretty cool. Today’s podcast is sponsored by Ruby Receptionists and its smart charming receptionists who are perfect for small firms. Visit callruby.com/lawyerist to get a risk free trial with Ruby.

Aaron Street: Today’s podcast is also sponsored by Xero. Beautiful legal accounting, simplified, find out more at xero.com. That’s X-E-R-O.com.

Sam Glover: Aaron. In this podcast Joe and I talk about how he recovered from the shittiest month he ever had in his firm and part of that for him was the realization that he actually needed to start working on his business and we kind of talked about why it’s hard for lawyers to get going on stuff like that but I kind of want to spin off of that and talk about why does it seem so hard for small businessman, small firms, lawyers, to do the things they know they need to do. Like if I heard another lawyer say, “Oh I know I need to learn more about technology but I just don’t have time,” or “Oh I know I need to figure out and set down some goals for my firm for next year but I just don’t have time. What is it that gets in their way while they’re doing that and why aren’t they moving forward? That’s kind of the question I’m interested in talking about.

Aaron Street: Yeah. I guess from my perspective it definitely is not at all limited to lawyers or small firm lawyers. It’s people who have businesses in general which is why there is even the phrase of working on your business rather than in your business because this is a very generalizable and common problem where people get caught up in the day to day and making sure they get paid tomorrow and can easily lose sight of having longer term goals and strategies to achieve them.
I wouldn’t limit it to small firm lawyers at all but it’s rampant in small firm lawyers that will regularly talk to people who say, “Oh yeah I know I should be doing that but,” and I guess that’s the challenge and is one of the things that I think is kind of scary about the small firm industry is how frequent the, “I know I should but,” becomes a hindrance to success in small firm practice and therefore there ends up being a lot of small firm failure when there could be success if people would develop some skills, habits, commitment to learning to focus on their business as a business while still being great lawyers to their clients.

Sam Glover: Yeah, and we’re going to hear this again in a podcast that I have coming up soon with two women who started a firm and basically just took it as a given that you do stuff. You work on your business, you move it forward. I guess my thought is, you don’t have to become tech competent all at once but sit down and come up with a plan. Your plan can encompass a lot of stuff but have a plan and move forward. Step one is making a plan and for Joe, part of that was getting a coach, and you’ll hear a little bit more about who that coach was and why he likes it. It doesn’t have to be a coach but it could be a piece of your plan is hiring somebody to hold you accountable and helping you figure out what you need to do, but I think you’re right, the bottom line is just get going. You can’t just sit around and continually wave the flag of, “Oh by clients are so much more important.” Yeah but this other stuff is stuff you just have to do.

Aaron Street: Yeah and I think some people need to have some sort of breaking point ah ha moment so Joe’s turning point was he had this terribly shitty month and realized things weren’t going to work unless he changed what he was doing. Other people happen to land upon some sort of business strategy book that happens to resonate with the challenges they’re dealing with and that becomes the turning point for them. For a lot folks that’s a book like, “E-Myth Revisited,” or “Traction.” Though there are a million business books, some of which might be useful to folks. Sometimes they’re pitched on a coaching service and realize that a coach and the third party accountability to someone else is what they need to turn the corner.

I happen to be skeptical of that as the solution but from my perspective successful business owners at least in part need to have the self-motivation to hold themselves accountable to growing their business and if it requires someone else holding them accountable, that doesn’t seem sustainable to me in the long run but tools are tools and if a coach is what you need then use it but for sure if you’re feeling stuck, if you’re feeling like you are focused on the next eight hours of billable work and the invoices for them, or managing your associates and office politics around them rather than what your firm needs to look like a year from now to achieve your longer term goals, figure out a way to step back and reassess what you’re doing.

Sam Glover: Yeah, I happen to think that planning for those things like I need to get technologically competent, okay, I know that I need to figure out how much money I’m spending to acquire a client and comparing that to how much money I’m actually making per client or I need to figure out if my associates are actually making money. Why am I not living the life and having the practice I want? I happen to those are really good things to do on a weekend. Like when you’re sitting on your couch drinking coffee in the morning, sit down with a piece of paper. You don’t need a laptop for this, and come up with your plan for finding out the answer to those questions, moving forward on accomplishing these things, just sketch out some goals for yourself and then move forward.

Have a plan and hold yourself accountable or figure out who’s going to hold you accountable. It could be your spouse. It can be your firm. You can bring this plan to your associates and your staff and have them help hold you accountable but get things moving forward and if you need to have somebody outside helping you then make that part of your plan. We’re going to hear now from Joe Bahgat about how he did that in his firm.

Aaron Street: I have some …

Sam Glover: Oh before we get there.

Aaron Street: Yeah, I have some mixed feelings about this intro Sam.

Sam Glover: All right.

Aaron Street: We swore a number of times but we weren’t funny and so I’m not sure does this count as a good intro or not if we get in some good swearing but aren’t particularly funny?

Sam Glover: Well I mean, it’s hard to be funny about this because it frustrates me. There’s so much potential in so many small firms and it’s often the lawyer themselves that are holding themselves back and it’s frustrating because you can see the potential and they just need to get going and it’s like come on, move forward and Joe’s an interesting case study because he is someone who thinks innovatively about law practice. He’s been to TBD Law, he’s been a friend and a member of our community for years. We know that he is forward thinking about things but he still didn’t kick it all into gear. I’m happy for him and I want to see more lawyers succeed in that way so I have a hard time being funny about it because it’s frustrating. I want to see more lawyers move forward.

Aaron Street: Can we do some planning work right now so that next week when we’re recording for episode 100 that we both swear and are funny?

Sam Glover: Let’s do it.

Aaron Street: Okay.

Sam Glover: Here’s my conversation with Joe Bahgat.

Joe Bahgat: Hi this is Joe Bahgat and I’m an entertainment lawyer. I make bad shit on the internet disappear.

Sam Glover: That was like the best introduction we’ve gotten I think.

Joe Bahgat: Wow thanks a lot.

Sam Glover: You make bad shit on the internet disappear, love it. Joe, tell me first of all let’s start and talk about your law firm, Hub City Law Group, what’s it look like and how did you get started? All that kind of stuff.

Joe Bahgat: Well, I never set out to have my own law firm. I never thought that was what I wanted. I never thought that was in the cards for me. I always thought it was a big firm guy until I went and worked for a big firm. Yeah I guess a lot of people …

Sam Glover: Then you’ll know really quickly.

Joe Bahgat: Exactly. My father has been a lawyer since I was a small child and that was part of the reason that I wanted to be a lawyer since I was a small child. My father’s always been on his own so after I clerked I decided that I was going to go work with my dad. It was kind of a natural transition. It’s not something, I guess I’m glad that I didn’t start out there because I think it could have been a problem if that was the only legal training I had was in that environment but the way it worked out I really have no complaints.

Sam Glover: What’s the firm look like now? Is your dad the managing partner or is he planning to retire soon or has he?

Joe Bahgat: It’s funny you should mention that. My dad calls me a couple weeks ago to wish me a happy birthday and he said, “Oh by the way you know the malpractice insurance is due,” and I said, “Yeah I know I’ve got the stuff ready to go, I just need you to sign off on the that there are no claims, whatever,” he goes, “Oh well you know I’ve been thinking, I think I’m done.” Yeah.

Sam Glover: A little sudden.

Joe Bahgat: That was it so, “Yeah you need to figure it out.” I said, “But dad, the policies set to renew in like four days, and I don’t think they’re going to be able to redo the whole policy in that time.” He said, “Well I think you’ll be okay, you always figure it out.”

Sam Glover: It’s you now.

Joe Bahgat: It’s me, yeah. I mean my dad is still, he’s doing court appointed cases and just that. It’s more or less not-for-profit.

Sam Glover: He just doesn’t want to manage the firm anymore. He doesn’t want it to be his thing.

Joe Bahgat: Right. I mean he just turned 79 yesterday as a matter of fact so I guess that’s certainly his right.

Sam Glover: He was done.

Joe Bahgat: Yeah. I think I’m done. Hey thanks for the notice.

Sam Glover: So is it just you now?

Joe Bahgat: It’s me, it’s my wonderful reception team.

Sam Glover: I think I spoke with them a few moments ago. You’ve decided to use Back Office Betties, right?

Joe Bahgat: I have and it was actually based on your Lawyerist review from quite awhile ago.

Sam Glover: It’s been a while.

Joe Bahgat: Yeah it’s been awhile but yeah I gave them a shot. I was using somebody else that I probably shouldn’t mention and I was really unhappy and pretty much everything that I was unhappy about the other service that I was using, Back Office Betties has been, they’ve kind of bent over backwards to make sure that those things don’t happen again. I feel like I get customized, personalized service with them instead of just lip service.

Sam Glover: Very cool. They did a nice job answering the phone, which is their job after all.

Joe Bahgat: Great. Glad to hear it.

Sam Glover: What I wanted to talk about is you have been doing a bunch of work on your firm and it sounds like it was prompted by a really shitty month. Is that right?

Joe Bahgat: It was. I don’t know if it was the shitty month that did it or if it was maybe that I’d already made the decision and having those numbers to kind of stare me in the face, made me feel really good about my decision.

Sam Glover: Okay, without giving real numbers, you told me the number. In the scale of shittiness was pretty shitty. Like it was not really, it was a month where the revenue was substantially lower than the expenses for just about any firm and it sounds like it was, if it wasn’t the only prompt, it was sort of a come to Jesus moment for you where you knew you needed to do something else with your firm.

Joe Bahgat: Yeah it was.

Sam Glover: Tell me about that. What’s it like when you have that shitty month and how do you crawl out of it or how do you climb out of it? What did you do basically?

Joe Bahgat: Here’s the problem with the shitty month. If you’re going to have a shitty month than you probably aren’t the type of lawyer who is watching your numbers very closely, which I wasn’t. I didn’t even realize that I’d had that shitty of a month until about a month later. That’s when I realized that hey there’s really no money in the account, what’s going on, how come we can’t pay these bills? I should have money there. That’s when I went back and looked and said, “Oh, okay that’s a problem.” That’s when I realized that all the kind of putting up having a business plan for all these years and not knowing who my target client is and what my cost per lead is, all these numbers that you hear people throw out in podcasts and at seminars, everybody trying to sell you stuff, but those numbers they do actually have some significance.

Sam Glover: There’s always a debate over whether or not a law practice, it’s okay to think about it as a business and I think we’re done with that conversation, of course it is, but there’s always somebody who chimes up that that’s sacrilege to even mention it but it is, right? Fundamentally if you can’t stay profitable, you can’t keep practicing law and if you can’t stay profitable, that’s when lawyers start making really bad decision like borrowing from their trust account and things like that, so it’s pretty essential that you keep your head above water.

Joe Bahgat: That’s right. I was at a workshop, at a business development workshop, last month and the presenter was Chris Anderson. I don’t know if you’re familiar with him.

Sam Glover: Yeah.

Joe Bahgat: The guy really knows his stuff and he said that he was giving this exact same workshop to a bar association, I think it was Indiana, maybe the Indiana State Bar and when he sent them his notes or his slides or something they got back to him and said, “Well everything’s great except we need you to take out the P word.” He’s like, “What are you talking about?”

Sam Glover: Profit?

Joe Bahgat: Yeah. Exactly. They didn’t want him to use the word profit because they felt like it was unbecoming.

Sam Glover: Unprofessional.

Joe Bahgat: Right.

Sam Glover: You’re working with how to manage a small law firm.

Joe Bahgat: Right.

Sam Glover: Which is an awkwardly named company.

Joe Bahgat: It is but I mean I think you just wrote an article recently about …

Sam Glover: I mean it sounds like I was giving the title of an article though I realize but how to manage a small law firm is the name of a company that provides coaching and business development advice and accountability and help and stuff like that.

Joe Bahgat: Yeah. That’s right. I’m guessing that it probably has something to do with the fact that we’re running out of top level domains.

Sam Glover: Could be.

Joe Bahgat: That’s why my firm is hubcitylawgroup.com. It’s a little bit long but it’s pretty easy to remember and how to manage a small law firm is pretty darn easy to remember too. Just a pain in the butt to type.

Sam Glover: Their thing is they’re really trying to force the people they work with, not force in the sense of beat them over the head, but they’re trying to get you to focus on working on your business as opposed to just chugging along in your business.

Joe Bahgat: Absolutely. When you go to the workshops, there’s a, and I guess this is a new rule because I’m told from people that have been in there for awhile they didn’t know about it but there’s a rule that says you’re not allowed to bring cell phones into the lecture hall and that if you’re caught, if you have a cell phone that makes a noise, that dings, whatever, during RJon’s, one of his presentations, you get fined $100 and you give to charity.

Sam Glover: I like that rule.

Joe Bahgat: I like it too. I guess either nobody reads the instructions, because I was the only one that apparently knew about this rule because I saw everybody with cell phone and I said, “Hey aren’t you guys going to get in trouble?” I felt like the kid in school, the teachers pet or whatever, the only kid that follows the rules.

Sam Glover: Tell me, what are you doing? What are they having you work on?

Joe Bahgat: The first 12 weeks is what they call the crash course so every week we have a conference call and we have homework, we have a reading assignment and listening assignment and it’s not a piece of cake. It usually requires a lot of thinking. To give you an example it’s taking up, to really do it, it takes about 40% of my time everyday. I’m talking about of my available, I have about eight and a half to nine hours that, which is actually the very first thing they make you do is to sit down and say, “Hey, how many hours do you have in a week to give to your law practice?
For me, the number really was shocking. It’s if I take the time to do everything that I want to do, spend time with my kids and with my friends, my family, take care of myself, workout, yoga, whatever, meditate, all the things that I need to do to keep myself functioning in top shape takes so many hours, and then what’s left for me is, I guess it’s not that different for most people, but for me it’s like 47.5 hours is what’s left in the week. That’s what I have and so now I know that each of those 47.5 hours, I assigned a value to it and I know that if I’m not making so much money per hour, that I’m losing money, that’s going to affect my bottom line.

Back to your question about what we’re doing, that was the first week was time and then the second week was something that I still haven’t finished because it’s a project that probably could take six months by itself and that’s we have to take everything, all the services that we provide, and break them down into what they call SKUs, as if there was a retail product that you have on your shelf. How much does it cost you to produce a demand letter? How much does it cost you to file a complaint in federal court for whatever it is, for whatever their cause of action is? You have to figure out what those costs are. How many hours of attorney time does it take? How many hours of paralegal time does it take? You put that all down and then you multiple it.

Sam Glover: By the hourly rate that you need to make to hit your goals I assume?

Joe Bahgat: Right, it’s just really tough to do especially, for me I’ve been practicing about 10 years so thank heavens for Chrometa because I was able to go back, seriously, I bill mostly flat fee. I’ve been using Chrometa almost since the beginning, before it was even available for Mac and I was using it on an old windows laptop that I just used pretty much just for Chrometa. That’s how cool Chrometa is. I was sacrificing using a windows laptop so I could use it. Having those numbers I can go back and look at how much time was spent doing things and I can even tell what time I spent personally doing things that could have been done by a paralegal or a secretary or a law clerk or whatever. It’s just very time consuming to go through that data.

Sam Glover: What’s the objective of doing that? To try and help you figure out … Well tell me what’s the objective?

Joe Bahgat: The objective is to find out your trust cost, number one, because if you don’t know what your cost is you can’t be profitable. I guess one of the things I’m still kind of grappling with is when you set your prices, I always thought that you set your prices based on supply and demand and I guess that’s not a lie. It’s not that that’s untrue but that assumes that your product is sponge-able and it’s really not because you’re not providing the same product that the lawyer next door is providing. Chances are you’re doing it a little differently and you certainly can do it differently if you wanted to. You have to charge accordingly, so it’s not so much about supply and demand. I mean there has to be a market for what you’re selling obviously. I’m still really just, I’m not even close to having it figured out. Like I said, I’m about six weeks into this thing and so far I’ve already seen amazing results. Literally amazing results. Everybody that I’ve talked to that’s been through has similar experiences.

Sam Glover: I know some of the how to manage people and I am sort of familiar with the model and I think what works is they’ll readily admit there’s no magic juice, it’s just that they’re finally forcing you or getting you to focus on your firm and as soon as you do that you can make a ton of progress. They focus it and they have lessons but really what it boils down is they’re just getting you to focus on working on your business.

Joe Bahgat: Yeah. That’s true. I mean I guess as many times as I read, not only your article, but all the other lawyerist posts on having a business plan and how to have one and how to start, no matter how many times I reread those things and how many times I had that on my to do list to make a business plan, it’s just not going to happen that way. You just don’t sit down and write a business plan. I’m sorry it’s just not that easy.

Sam Glover: Well let’s hold that thought for a moment. We need to take two minutes from our sponsors and when we come back, let’s talk a little bit more about why it’s not so easy and what comes before actually building a business plan.

This podcast is supported by Ruby Receptionists. As a matter of fact Ruby answers our phones at Lawyerist and my firm was a paying Ruby customer before that. Here’s what I love about Ruby, when I’m in the middle of something I hate to be interrupted so when the phone rings it annoys me and that often carries over into the conversation I have after I pick up the phone, which is why I’m better off not answering my own phone. Instead Ruby answers the phone and if the person on the other end asks for me, a friendly cheerful receptionist from Ruby calls me and asks if I want them to put the call through.

It’s a buffer that gives me a minute to let go of my annoyance and be a better human being during the call. If you want to be a better human being on the phone, give Ruby a try. Go to callruby.com/lawyerist to sign up and Ruby will waive the $95 setup fee. If you aren’t happy with Ruby for any reason, you can get your money back during your first three weeks. I’m pretty sure you’ll stick around but since there is no risk, you might as well try.

Aaron Street: Billable hours are the life blood of a successful law practice. Problem is you still have to bill those hours. Even if you’re law firm has an accountant, tracking hours, clients, rates, preparing invoices, and collecting on those invoices is time you never get paid for, and writing notes to yourself in court or on the road is inefficient and error prone. Run your legal practice better with cloud accounting software and see why over 600,000 small businesses love Xero, including Lawyerist. Get a free trial at xero.com. That’s X-E-R-O.com, beautiful accounting software.

Sam Glover: Okay and we’re back and so a minute ago you were saying it’s hard to actually just sit down and put together a business plan, that you need more, essentially I think more information before you can do it. What is that was missing and what is it that you’re doing now to put that together?

Joe Bahgat: Right, actually so my goal, one of the things that we did at the workshop with how to manage is when you leave the workshop, they have a meeting every quarter, and when you leave you have to write down your personal goals, your professional goals, and you have to pick one thing that is the one thing that you’re going to do and it’s on a carbon copy sheet, sort of old school, and so you tear the page out of your workbook, the top page you tear out and you give to your managing partner, which is the person who’s assigned to basically put their foot up your ass when you screw up. This person holds you accountable because when you come back in three months everybody’s going to shame you I guess. I mean it hasn’t happened yet.

The thing that I put down, my number one goal was to have this business plan. The reason it’s harder than it sounds is because I don’t have all those SKUs. I don’t know how much my costs are. I mean I’m beginning to figure that out. For example, I took a couple weeks, I used my Chrometa data and I picked out a couple of weeks from the summer and throughout the year that I was particularly busy, where I was working probably 60 hours or more in the week and I looked at those and figured out that I was doing about 30% of my time, of those 60 hours or whatever, 30% of the time was doing secretarial work. That was a huge, that just kind of hit me over the head.

I thought well I’m saving money by doing it myself. That’s what I thought. That’s how I justified it but if you really think about that it’s not sustainable, number one, and it’s just not fair to yourself, it’s not fair to your clients because you’re burning yourself out doing things that it has nothing to do with, it’s not like the work is beneath you, it’s not about that, it’s about what are you trained to do? What are you good at? That’s what your clients want you doing and that’s how you’re going to serve your clients best if you do that work. If you are not doing that work and you’re doing administrative work than you’re burning yourself out and you’re not going to be happy so you’re not going to do good work.

Sam Glover: Yeah, I mean if you think about yourself as a manager of a company, and your company has the need, and so if I’m managing people I wouldn’t want my lawyers doing secretarial work, I would want the secretaries doing the secretarial work because I’m paying the lawyers to do legal work and I’m not getting my money’s worth out of them if they’re doing secretarial work but when it’s just use we don’t think of it in the same way. You kind of need to change your perspective and pretend like you’re looking down on your company and then you go, “Well wait a second, why is that guy doing secretarial work? He wants to make a hundred grand a year or two hundred grand a year or whatever and he’s wasting away sealing envelopes, that doesn’t make any sense.”

Joe Bahgat: Yeah, that’s exactly it. That was my real wake up. I had been holding back on this, on kind of hiring assistance. There’s a guy that I really like, I’m sure you’re familiar with him, he does kind of business development, coaching and such, it’s Lee Rosen. He writes divorce discourse and he’s got a great podcast. I’ve been a big fan of his for awhile. Also have been probably ignoring most of the stuff that he’s been preaching. Well it’s true. One of the things that I remember really hit home with me that he said in a podcast a couple years ago, and this has been kind of what I’ve been hanging my hat on, he said, “You don’t need to hire anybody until you’ve got $300,000 in revenue.” I’m not saying that that’s false but it’s not working for me because I’m not going to ever get, or I wouldn’t have ever gotten to $300,000 if I hadn’t realized that I was wasting all this time.

Maybe I was just looking at the wrong numbers because I’m looking back at my practice metrics come up in Cleo when I log in and I get a really nice pie chart, it tells me how many hours I’ve billed and how many I need to bill to get to my goal. It’s really nice, but the thing about it is in Cleo, it doesn’t distinguish between the hours that you work, that you log, or that you bill, and the hours that you actually collect payment for. At least it doesn’t in that metric, in that screen, on the dashboard. I switched to QuickBooks online. I switched from Xero about maybe a year ago and many QuickBooks is just amazing compared to Xero. I’m so glad I left Xero. I hope they’re not a sponsor.

Sam Glover: No it’s funny because I have exactly the opposite feeling. If you held a gun to my head I wouldn’t touch QuickBooks again.

Joe Bahgat: Yeah, you know what the biggest problem with Xero for me was, and I hope they’re not a sponsor, but I couldn’t get anybody to help me when I had problems because nobody knows how to use it, at least not on the east coast. If you have a problem with QuickBooks, everybody knows how to use QuickBooks. You could put a Craigslist ad and get 50 people respond in 10 minutes. Not that I would. QuickBooks has really great, Xero had nice reporting too but QuickBooks makes it really easy …

Sam Glover: It wasn’t giving you that realization rate, how much money you were actually making for the time that you were billing and putting together.

Joe Bahgat: Right and it was like half so if I looked at my Cleo numbers then yeah I was generating plenty of work that I should have a whole staff working for me, but the actual amount that I was collecting was not there and so I kept holding out thinking okay I’ve got to bring more revenue in. The biggest problem was, if it’s not obvious, is that I’m writing off too much time and I’m not charging enough for my work. Part of that was under billing for flat fees and part of it was on fee shifting cases, not getting retainers from the clients and I just don’t do that anymore because it’s just not sustainable.

Sam Glover: Let me just switch topics a little bit here. It sounds like the big theme here is that you didn’t start focusing on business development until you did. The thing that helped you make that switch was having a really shitty month and you’ve absolutely climbed back from that but we run into that same thing with so many aspects of business development. People know they should go paperless because they should have gone paperless 10 years ago but they still haven’t done it. People know that they should be learning to be tech savvy but they don’t do it. Does it always take a shitty month or how can we get more lawyers, what do you think it’s going to take to get more lawyers to take that step and finally start focusing on business development or even some professional development when it starts feeling like not lawyering professional development, how do we convince more lawyers to do that? Do you have any insight?

Joe Bahgat: Wow. Well, I can say that what made me snap out of it was RJon Robbins and you can just put him into YouTube and just see, he’s a crazy dude.

Sam Glover: Was it seeing his videos or was it paying his company money that forced you, I mean it’s like the gym thing right? I will go to the gym because I’m paying the gym $150 a month.

Joe Bahgat: Right. Wow that’s an expensive gym membership.

Sam Glover: It is a little more than that but yeah, that’s the YMCA.

Joe Bahgat: Wow. You have the whole family.

Sam Glover: Yes, that’s the family plan. Yeah, was it something that RJon or somebody else said or was it finally committing to it and spending the money because if it’s committing to it and spending the money then we need to back it up a little bit and figure out what is it that actually gets you to do that so we can get other lawyers to do it.

Joe Bahgat: Okay. First of all he gives you everything for free. He’s not a greedy guy. A lot of people might say that or whatever, I mean he’s brache, he’s kind of off putting, not to me because I’m used to that on the east coast and that’s just kind of how we are. A lot of people call him a bastard, call him this and that he jokes about it himself. Hopefully he won’t mind me saying this but you know he speaks the truth. I’ve seen people try to challenge him on some of these principles that he has and nobody can do it. He gives everything away for free. If you want to pay for it than they sort of hold your hand and they help you get it done. He’ll tell you all this stuff is available in books, most of them were written a half century ago, and you could go all this information. This guy, I mean RJon, he reads books. He’s like constantly reading books and he rereads them so he gets so much out of them.

Sam Glover: Let me drag you back to my question which was how do we force more people to finally get over that step and start working on their business? Is the answer that they need to watch RJon Robbins videos or what is it that will make the difference?

Joe Bahgat: Thanks for pointing out that I was off track. Maybe you can be my campaign manager when I run for office but I guess you have to find your, there’s a term, anytime you want to make a change in your life, and I can’t remember what it is but any kind of, I think Seth Godin used it, Tony Robbins maybe, it’s like you have to have an oh shit moment and you need to find your oh shit moment. RJon, that was it for me. He helped me to find it. I think that the way that he made it so obvious is because he got me to finally admit that just because you’re a solo or small firm lawyer doesn’t mean you have to be struggling, doesn’t mean you have to be hustling all the time, doesn’t mean that you can’t have work life balance or whatever you want to call it.
I guess the thing that kind of hit with me is it all comes down to sales. If you don’t know how to sell legal services than you’re not going to be happy as a lawyer unless you’re going to go work for somebody else and somebody else is going to be selling the legal services because if you can’t be comfortable and effective at selling legal services than you’re not going to run your firm, your firm is going to run you and clients come to us for sound advice, for guidance, for judgement and we have to be the lawyers. We can’t have the clients dictating what we’re doing. I guess RJon’s videos spoke to me and kind of opened my eyes to these principles about cause and effect, about sales, about marketing, all these little things, all these, the seven parts of every successful law firm.

Sam Glover: You saw the way. The way was open to you.

Joe Bahgat: I guess, yeah. I mean I just realized that I was doing something wrong and things aren’t going to change. It’s not because I’m not a good enough lawyer, that’s not the reason that I’m not making enough money. It has nothing to do with that.

Sam Glover: I think that’s kind of a nice note to end on, so Joe thank you so much for being with us today, really enjoyed, well I’m sorry to hear about your shitty month but I’m really, I enjoyed talking about how you’ve gone about making sure you never have another one.

Joe Bahgat: Thanks Sam, it’s fun, always fun talking to you.

Aaron Street: Make sure to catch next weeks episode of The Lawyerist podcast. If you’d like more information about today’s show, please visit lawyerist.com/podcast or legaltalknetwork.com. You can subscribe via iTunes or anywhere podcasts are found both Lawyerist and the Legal Talk Network can be found on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and you can download the free app from Legal Talk Network in Google Play or iTunes.

Sam Glover: The views expressed by the participants of this program are their own and do not represent the views of, nor are they endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said during this podcast is legal advice.

2 Comments

  1. Kyle Law says:

    Well done Joe, Sam and Aaron! I would add is that being part of the How To Manage community is a great asset to me – like minded lawyers that regularly give me encouragement, challenging yet practical feedback, and inspiration. Kudos to you Sam, and other lawyers who find other ways to work ON their business. There’s more than one way to get there. Both The Lawyerist and How To Manage continue to help me get and stay in the mindset of moving forward.

  2. Susan Ford says:

    Great job, Joe! I joined How to Manage in July and it has certainly changed my mindset about who I am and what my firm can become. That being said, it is still a struggle to force myself to work ON my business rather than IN it since I feel so responsible for billing hours simply to keep the doors open! Hopefully that situation will change soon as I generate more leads for the firm and client work for my associate.

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