Episode Notes

Zack talks with lawyer and digital marketing guru, Seth Price, about the struggles of scaling a small law firm. They discuss how to think about hiring, growing, and investing in your own firm. Seth shares his own growing pains and discusses how he and his partner took Price Benowitz LLP from two to over forty lawyers in less than a decade. If you listen closely, you’ll also get some tips on how to use AI to help you hire the right person for the right job. 

Links from the episode:

Lawyerist Complete Guides  

Check out NetDocuments! 

If today's podcast resonates with you and you haven't read The Small Firm Roadmap Revisited yet, get the first chapter right now for free! Looking for help beyond the book? Check out our coaching community to see if it's right for you.

  • 04:13. NetDocuments
  • 23:58. The Role of Passion and Drive in Building a Successful Law Firm
  • 35:53. Aligning Roles and Responsibilities: Finding the Right Fit



Welcome to The Lawyerist Podcast, a series of discussions with entrepreneurs and innovators about building a successful law practice in today’s challenging and constantly changing legal market. Lawyerist supports attorneys, building client-centered, and future-oriented small law firms through community, content, and coaching both online and through the Lawyerist Lab. And now from the team that brought you The Small Firm Roadmap and your podcast hosts 


Zack Glaser (00:35): 

Hi, I’m Zack. 


Stephanie Everett (00:36): 

And I’m Stephanie Everett. And this is episode 503 of the Lawyerist Podcast, part of the Legal Talk Network. Today, Zack is talking with Seth Price about scaling your law firm. 


Zack Glaser (00:48): 

Today’s podcast is brought to you by NetDocuments and you’ll hear my conversation with them shortly. So Stephanie, I think a lot of our listeners know, I hope a lot of our listeners know that we have the small firm roadmap book. We have the Lawyerist Lab coaching program, we have reviews on our website that people can go to and a lot of educational material there, but I don’t know that everybody always knows that we have some DIY educational materials on the site that is complete series that kind of fit hand in glove with the book complete series to different portions of your practice. 


Stephanie Everett (01:28): 

If you’re looking for some extra help, this is an easy place to get started. They’re free and I think really helpful. So for example, we have the complete guide to how to start a law firm and how to manage a law firm, how to hire staff and grow your law firm team. There’s one on law firm clients. Pricing is a great one, all about how you can price your services. I know we talk about that a lot on the show. Maybe you’ve heard that and thought, but how would I even get started? Well, there’s a handy dandy pricing guide. Finances is another one. People get stuck on law firm, website, design, marketing, legal tech. I mean, these things are great. It’s completely free. You go to our site and you log in to be able to download it and then you’ll see each one has a chapter. The chapters are going to go into more in depth, but it’s a really great place to get started on these topics. 


Zack Glaser (02:26): 

And these are PDF white papers that you can download, but they’re also mirrored on the site. You could go through and look at this information on the site in the healthy firms and everything as well. 


Stephanie Everett (02:40): 

Yeah, we’ve tried to make it super easy for everybody to just get started. I mean, at the end of the day, we want your firm to be healthier and we want to give you lots of tools. No matter where you are in your journey, maybe you’re ready for more help and help. Looks like the coaching program we always talk about. And then our program, we have a self-paced option. We have a done with you and done for you. This is like you said, this is more the do it yourself, get started. It’s free. Why not consume that content? And then if you find you need more help, we have that too. But this is a great way to just get started learning about a lot of these concepts that we talk about every day. 


Zack Glaser (03:22): 

Well, we’ll obviously drop the links to these guides in the show notes, but if you want to go directly to them, you can go to Lawyerist dot com slash resources, scroll down and you can find all the law firm guides that Stephanie was talking about. 


Stephanie Everett (03:37): 

So now let’s check out Zach’s conversation with folks from NetDocuments and then we’ll hear him and Seth talk about scaling your law firm. 


Zack Glaser (03:49): 

Hey y’all, Zach here and I have Michelle Spencer from NetDocuments with me to talk about you guested artificial intelligence specifically though where to begin when you don’t know where to start. Michelle, thank you for being with me. I know NetDocs is really, really on the front leading edge of ai, especially in document management and manipulation. So thanks for being with me here. 


Michelle Spencer (04:11): 

Happy to be here. 


Zack Glaser (04:13): 

So I think that’s a really good question of where to begin when you don’t know where to start. People are looking at Lawyerist specifically are looking at artificial intelligence and saying, I know that I need to be kind of familiarizing myself with that and probably getting past that and potentially using it. Where should they begin? 


Michelle Spencer (04:29): 

So there’s really a couple of ways that you could dive into generative ai, and I want to be specific generative AI because different from the AI we’ve all been using for years. So you could dive in head first and go buy some tools, but without knowing how to swim first you might be in for some bad outcomes for your practice and really a lot of frustration if you take that approach. And that’s why we’re recommending that people weigh in a little slower, dipping your toe in first and then moving up to your knees and then your waist getting comfortable with the water temperature and your capabilities before going deeper. 


Zack Glaser (05:10): 

Right? Well, so how can people do that? Because you look at the landscape right now and you see all of these generative AI tools that can create text, create images, create sound. We just had an episode where we had generative AI creating answers and Stephanie’s voice we’re the star into the pool. 


Michelle Spencer (05:31): 

So little secret, we actually used that same technology on our 24 voices in 2024 report on AI and automation that we put out this year. And yeah, it’s creepy. 


Zack Glaser (05:44): 



Michelle Spencer (05:46): 

So I just read a quote from the modernized legal folks who are kind of at the forefront of looking at changes happening in the legal industry and said, the future doesn’t just happen. People make it happen by envisioning something that doesn’t exist yet by working really hard to solve difficult problems and by taking risks and asking others to believe in them. So we took the risk and began envisioning things that didn’t exist prior to gen ai, AI technology arriving on the scene. And we shifted more of our dev work to AI enabled tools and examine the different ways that gen AI could be used. And one of the important things that we did was starting to engage with partners like Microsoft to understand the capabilities and get needed exclusions. So that’s one thing I’d like to get people to start with is understanding how the technology relates to their practice and client confidentiality. 



So it’s one thing to get no data retention and no triggers for sensitive content, but most lawyers work involves sensitive content and it would trigger those kind of reviews. And so making sure that you have that additional protection with any tools you’re going to use is really important. So those are a couple of safety things, but then starting to talk to customers about how they thought gen AI could help their practices. It’s really not about investing in tools too quickly. I think you need to take some time to understand the technology. You need to start reading up on how prompting works with large language models and even maybe tip a toe in and play with some of the free tools like Bart or chat GPT or Bing, but don’t stop there. That’s just that first option for dipping your toe in and starting to understand how prompting works and things like that. But you need to understand what Gen AI’s capabilities are and are not suited for legal research anyone. So getting educated is kind of that first step. 


Zack Glaser (08:26): 

So I kind of want to go back to the beginning of what you had just said there, which is dealing with security and I think a net documents episode here is a great place to do this. What we’re talking about is enhanced security in Microsoft, the copilot area of specifically not having human review of prompts when they trigger sensitivity kind of warnings. And when you don’t have a particular relationship with Microsoft, a tool can have sensitive data reviewed by a human. Exactly. But net documents when the extra step got an exclusion with Microsoft, which was not easy to do and can say that the lawyer’s data in net documents is never going over into a public sphere where anybody outside of that law office can look at it, which not a lot of, I won’t go as far as saying no AI tool can say, but not a lot of AI tools can say because you have to get that exclusion. And if you want to read more about that, hint, hint, hint, please do go to LinkedIn and find net documents. They have articles on this specifically Scott Kelly at NetDocuments as some information on this, and that is a great way to dip your toe into the security aspects of all this. So I’m sorry to hijack that, Michelle, but I love that topic and I want to scream that from the rooftops all the time. 


Michelle Spencer (09:58): 

No, and that’s why I started with that before I even recommended trying a public tool because understanding that if you’re using a public tool, you’re not going to have those exclusions. You’re not going to be able to use those tools for client work especially, but anything that you don’t want being put into a model if you’re using some of the other tools. 


Zack Glaser (10:24): 

Right, right. Well, Michelle, we will have I guess, net documents on two more episodes to talk about, dip your toe into the water more because really there are a lot of little steps in places that you can get introduced into ai, but this security area I think is a great place for attorneys to start at and we will put a link to some of net document’s information on that security issue in the show notes specifically some of the stuff that Scott talks about. I’ve read a good deal on this and it is something definitely to dig into. Well, Michelle, thank you for being with me. Thank you for your time. I really appreciate you helping us kind of talk about where to begin when you don’t know where to start in ai, 


Michelle Spencer (11:07): 

You’re welcome and I look forward to the next part where we look at working really hard to solve difficult problems. 


Zack Glaser (11:14): 

Awesome. Thank you so much. 


Seth Price (11:20): 

Thank you so much for having me, Zack. Thrilled to be here with the Lawyerist family today. My name is Seth Price. I am the founder and managing partner of Price Benowitz, which is a 44 lawyer firm with lawyers in dc, Maryland, Virginia, and South Carolina. We started as a criminal shop and built that out and then on that base or platform have expanded to personal injury, medical malpractice as well as family trust in the states and some eclectic practice areas like keam or False Claims Act work. And all of that was built on digital. It was me and a buddy. And from day one, I think what sets us apart or makes us unique is that from day one, I never had any case files. We built the firm who was a buddy of mine, Dave Benowitz, who’s a lawyer’s lawyer. We went to college together at UPenn. 



We took the same year off. We ended up in law school together. It’s a story for another day, but I ended up getting him into law school. We ended up in the same section of a hundred kids and then in the same writing section of 12, so oh wow, I’m sort of stuck with this guy for a long time. After law school, he turns down big law and goes to the DC Public Defender, which is sort the greatest training ground for trial advocacy, at least on the East coast. I went the corporate law route to a firm that’s now been gobbled up by Morgan Lewis and B, and basically I cut my teeth but realized that I knew this going in, but that I am not destined to be a practicing lawyer. I loved the business side when I was doing transactional work, I wanted to be a client. 



They were doing cool stuff with sox, stock plans, and one of the things I did after leaving the law firm after a couple years during the first.com bubble was I worked with a company, I was the founding business development employee for something called US law.com, which is a precursor to legal zoomo or fine law, and we just had an amazing run, but the bubble burst in April of 2000. By 2001, everything was gone, but I love the digital place. I mean the lawyers were resisting digital, why do I need a website? I got yellow pages. So when we started, I went all in on, and it goes back about 19 years. We have sort of debate as to the exact start of it, but we started the firm, I built a website. It did so well, something you couldn’t do today that hired another lawyer, built another website, and this ping ponging went on for the first 10 years of the firm. 



One of the things I discovered was that in order to keep the digital sustainable, I would have a person, but every two years they’d go off to do something else. Sports Agent one went off to solve aids in Europe, there was always something going on. I took somebody who had started as an intern at the law firm and had grown to be the head of marketing and spun Blue Shark off into its own entity with the idea of replicating the success for Price Benowitz for others around the country. We now represented Blue Shark, about 250 law firms nationwide. 


Zack Glaser (14:19): 

Right. Yeah, I’m glad you talked about Blue Shark as well, because that is a heavy part of your expertise. Is this you said, oh, also welcome to the podcast by the way. It’s good to have you here, but we’ll just go ahead and jump right in because we’ve got a lot of information and not a lot of time, frankly. Yeah, I’m glad you said something about Blue Shark because like you had mentioned, you didn’t necessarily want to be the lawyer’s lawyer. You wanted to kind of be in that business development area, and that means no matter how you slice it, sales and marketing and all those 


Seth Price (14:55): 

Things and operations. 


Zack Glaser (14:57): 

Operations, absolutely. And if you’re doing well at that, much like things that are in the law practice, but if you can replicate that, then replicating it for other people, especially when you were at the kind of ground floor of digital marketing for a lot of people. So yeah, you’ve got Price benowitz, you’ve got Blue Shark Digital, which is a full service digital marketing agency for, and I don’t want to get this wrong, it’s kind of for larger growth, not real tiny startups. 


Seth Price (15:31): 

Let’s divide it. We have two divisions and I’ve made my own, if you’re a baseball fan, Mendoza line where if you’re not doing used to say three 50, I’d say today with inflation 400, if you’re not closing 400,000 or you have independent wealth or investment or smoothing, the idea of investing in SEO specifically as paid search or grind out referrals, that until you have that corpus of 3 50, 400, it’s really hard to invest the money needed for search engine optimization, which is the organic side of Google. You build a website and we have a division that does, we call it Silver Shark that has $2,000 a month products. But the frustration is that in order to move the needle, you really need to be doing higher level SEO for link building for content creation. I literally was talking to somebody this weekend, I was at an event and he had just started his own firm and I’m like, you need a website? 



He has a website. Got to have it discouraging him from really jumping into SEO full born unless, look, if you love it, write the content. That’s SEO. If you have connections, speak to all your friends in the community, press people, get as many links as you can. That’s SEO of spending before you hit that number. I discouraged people from, and that’s why we started this silver shark division so that we could have something below $2,000 and that people, my first thought was people would just jump to Blue Shark and that what I found over time is that people will add components as their budget allows, and so they might add different content to their product and over time get themselves there, but that it’s a process and that if you try to spend too much and you don’t get over the hump where you’re seen, you’ve invested this money but you haven’t gotten yourself seen. 



And to me that’s one of the greatest sort of enigmas or challenges because a lot of people say, Hey, I started a firm, great, but anything else, if you open a restaurant or a bar, you would need seat capital. You can’t just go a landlord and say, Hey, I feel like opening a bar because I have a bar license. What’s in the bank? Go from when you open before people start really coming and before you become discovered, do you have the ability to take a hit when there’s a downturn or somebody steals from you or what have you get there? Now, if we knew all the obstacles, nobody would do anything. But I think that a lot of people jump in with two feet. It’s a business. It’s not the practice of law. And I think that when people do that with the knowledge and understanding, some people are like, I’m going to grind out that first 400,000 by getting referrals, by taking the crap nobody else wants. 



But until you get to that amount where you can spend what you need on marketing in order to produce results and have the wherewithal to hold on for that period of time, particularly if you’re in contingency work where there’s an arc before the money pays out, that’s a real challenge I don’t think has talked enough about there’s plenty of people that will help coach you to that, but there’s this SEO doesn’t work. Well, maybe it shouldn’t work in those early days unless you have a form of capital to get yourself to the point where you have the patience to let that work. 


Zack Glaser (18:58): 

Right. So let’s dig into that a little bit because I think that has a lot to do with your journey to a multi-state law firm from two attorneys. That initial investment point, that place where when I was helping the small business association in Tennessee, thinking about creating a job for yourself and creating a business, and I think there’s that inflection point between those two places that requires some thought, some investment. And if you don’t have seed capital or are independently wealthy or have a spouse that is able to really back you or a family member or something like that, you have to reinvest in the company. And I think you and I have talked about this before, but that concept of how do we do that to reinvest into this company to get it to that $400,000? 


Seth Price (19:51): 

Before we started the law firm, my law partner Dave and I, we walked the franchise show in dc. We looked at all the different options that were out there. We looked at a drug testing franchise the day year we were there, all the marble slab and fruity ice cream companies were out there, which I did not get, and thank God because I think they all disappeared. But one of the things that struck me is that if you buy a single franchise and you invest 60,000 and maybe have a loan for 250,000, you bought yourself a job, you’re there, you’re essential. It isn’t until you get to 10 units where you have a general manager who’s overseeing it. I just came back from a mastermind, the John Fisher mastermind, a good dear friend of mine, runs a really nice program three times a year. And I was facilitating one of the breakout groups. 



And one of the things that was consistent of almost every member there who was in the half million to $2 million range was the hiring of a non-lawyer, non-law firm functioning person. We all talk about it, I know lawyers talks about it all the time, but the idea that whether it’s your admin who becomes an office manager, whether it’s a law firm administrator, people want to throw that term around. And in my parlance, people love talking about COOs and that’s awesome, but almost no law firms are buying a true COO that’s a quarter million dollars a year. So you have something inferior to a true COO present company included with a multi eight figure organization that you end up pushing people up that world. And when you start, it may be an admin and if you’re lucky enough, that person could be expanded. But until you have that person, you’re essentially through sweat equity doing all these things. 



And that the platform that I see the difference between success and scale, if that’s what you so choose, people don’t want to scale, but the lifestyle and the ability to scale comes down to the investment, in my opinion, for non-legal, producing administrative staff. And that once you figure that piece out or are willing to jump off that ledge, that baseline, and look, I always say when I speak, the first person you hire may not be right. The second may not be right, it may be the third. That was true. I heard it’s some people because you’re not paying enough, you don’t know what you want, most importantly, and you can’t attract the right people necessarily. Again, sometimes you get lucky, but the idea that you have somebody who’s the epicenter of your firm, that’s not you that can take on those pieces, that’s a huge, huge step forward. And really the building block for future growth, 


Zack Glaser (22:31): 

Right? Well, how do we get to that place though? Because that quarter million or even less than that, we’re talking about a lot of attorneys, if they’re looking at just a simple low six figures, that’s going to take ’em aback on hiring that person, 


Seth Price (22:48): 

That’s not going to happen in that zero to 400,000. That’s a big piece of your pie. You sort of fake it till you make it. I remember one of the things I did early on when we were beyond the half million dollar mark was back in the day, Craigslist was how you hired, I know that two people firm now. I built my firm zero or two to 20 lawyers all on Craigslist. I stopped working the way it did. We stuck with Indeed, which I know is free, but really if you start using it well, it gets very, very expensive. 


Zack Glaser (23:18): 

Nothing’s ever free, right? You’re the product at the very least. 


Seth Price (23:22): 

Exactly. And in this case, I wish I was the product, but no, it get you addicted and you need to spend more money. So like, oh, I could get better people and faster if I spend money and all of a sudden you start doing. So I would say that I hired off Craigslist for $25 an hour, a lady who would do our recruiting and screening and then bring the people to me, oh, back in the day would go to one Starbucks, do a screening interview, and if she liked them, we’d send ’em three blocks to my Starbucks and I would do my in-person piece. 


Zack Glaser (23:55): 

I like that. I like it. But you’re hiring your own internal headhunter there. 


Seth Price (23:58): 

And to me that is one of the most valuable. Again, there are a lot of places to spend money and that there are things you want to take off your plate and things you don’t. But to me, that is one of the things that I feel the sooner that I put that in place again, first you get a person and that person may help you. They may place the ads, they can screen, they can do all sorts of stuff. But that with time, a topic that I’m very passionate about, I’m sort of figuring out there may be a book in this, is that if I could, I would blow up hr. I mean, I’d probably get sued for this at some point when somebody goes wrong in our firm. So I say this, please don’t sue me for espouses. 


Zack Glaser (24:38): 

This is not legal advice. Yes, right. 


Seth Price (24:40): 

No, no. But it’s what I’ve observed. Now, I know some people in HR that make a buck 50, $250,000 that are amazing, but I also interview a lot of people that are not at that level, that are at the 75 to a hundred level who are making less money to be in that space that very often come with heavy drum and heavy interpersonal issues. And I think as a law firm owner, we talked a minute ago about you have all responsibilities when you finally start giving them off, thinking about who is this person you’re handing ’em off to and is this person, we talk about core values a lot today, but does this person share your sensibilities? And when there’s an issue, do they have the training to handle it? If you’ve gone through a bunch of professional trainings, great, but so many people just raise their hand and say, Hey, I’m going to be small law firms HR person, and they end up in my experience, adding much more drama and interpersonal strife than is needed. 



This isn’t to say that you don’t need recruiting benefits, payroll, all those tasks have to happen, but being careful about who that person is that somebody’s going to go to when you have an issue. Now, I was lucky that my partner and I were married. We weren’t gallivanting at the firm. We took that very seriously. But at the same time, I think that there was what I discovered and saw as the Fun Uncle syndrome. We are somebody, maybe a junior partner, could be your mond, love to sort of, I won’t tell anybody, but tell me about the drop. And it wasn’t percolating up and I couldn’t do anything about it. And that was very frustrating because if there’s an issue, you want to be able to deal with it. Look, I’ve matured myself a lot less yelling a lot more, a lot more delegation, a lot more. 



And those are things that the sooner you figure out the better. But there’s also a certain amount that if you don’t have that drive and push, you’re not going to get to that 400,000 we talked about or to the million where you could start affording some real administrative staff. And so it’s a fine line between, oh, we should really hold ourselves up here as that leader. Yes, you should. We don’t want to do stuff where we’re reactioning stuff I’ve been guilty of in the past where I’ve talked to or disciplined somebody in a public area rather than taking them behind its closed door. But at the same time, that passion, if you don’t have that passion, you’re not getting there. So this isn’t like, Hey, you should go and break all the rules. But no, there are a lot of rules that are there that if you don’t get to that corpus, you have nothing. And once it’s there, you want to protect it. And then that to me, I think for myself was probably one of the harder things because I use that drive passion and push and that there are moments where that’s not going to serve you as well once you’ve scaled to a larger point, 


Zack Glaser (27:30): 

Right? So you need to get more people into that area, into that drive passion and push with you 


Seth Price (27:37): 

Understanding nobody’s going to have it at your level. They’re not getting compensated. They shouldn’t. At the same time, if you try to deal with all those micromanaging pieces, and I feel like it’s a self-help therapy session for myself, I’m now thankfully at a point where I’m probably about 95% compliant that everything goes through my direct reports to people that are needed. But that is one of those really difficult things. And when you’re starting, you have to wear multiple hats. You’re not just the service provider, the person that’s going to connect with the public, but you also are holding those administrative hats, which may not be your skillset, may not be things you’re particularly good at. You may be toxic at it. And that’s one of the reasons why I encourage people as quickly as possible to find somebody who might be better at those things or have more patience than you in those areas because that is the building block size. I see it for getting yourself to the next level. 


Zack Glaser (28:36): 

Do you think we can hire those people kind of in fraction? 


Seth Price (28:40): 

The answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes you get lucky and I think that the new normal has allowed for a lot more of that because we’re more comfortable people not being there. So that is one of those areas that I think has been there. There’s sort of a lot of third party companies that can take over your hr. Some of those are very expensive. And even the point on that, I don’t love giving up that percentage of revenue to those groups. Anyway, the story for another day that as we start out to file multi-state tax returns, if you’re doing business in multiple places, it becomes a little bit closer. But I think that the fractional piece can be incredibly valuable if leveraged properly. The question is who is that person? Just like you’re burnt by employees, we’ve been burnt by certain fractional people in the past and that they have their own business. And I think looking at what are you getting? Because if it’s somebody who says, Hey, I got five clients, you’re one of ’em, great. If it’s somebody who’s like, Hey, I’m scaling this, I got 60 clients and you’re an hour of my time and you’re being pushed down to these people, it’s easy to bury your head in the sand, but you’re now as good or bad as their ability to scale their business. And that can also lead to issues. 


Zack Glaser (29:51): 

Okay. So talking about scaling your business though, lawyers obviously have trouble with that because we talking to an attorney that I coached the other day and they were wondering whether to dig deeper into what they do currently or kind of expand out into something that is partially connected to that. And so for me, for my example in my firm, it would be going from medical debt collection to, okay, well we’re always in this collections area. Let’s scale out into landlord tenant stuff or do we go deeper 


Seth Price (30:26): 

And look, that’s the million dollar question. I’m probably not the best person to speak on this. I went wide, but I did it with expertise in each area. So if you have the expertise and you want to build out a division, it’s hard pressed for me to say don’t. I think that there’s a saying, riches and niches and that I see it and I think the people that focus do better. So tangentially connected and a true synergy I love and there’s nothing wrong with but know it’s a whole new business line that you’ll have to figure out staff and make work. I see the bigger issue when it’s completely off to the side, that is much, much harder. And for instance, during Covid, I looked at immigration for myself and said, Hey, look, we aren’t great at it. My person who was doing it was leaving to go to the government and I said, you know what? 



I’m passing that off. I will condense. So we have a lot of different practice areas so that, again, I run mine because I’m sitting up here as individual firm. We have one person who wakes up every day, who runs our trust and estates division. She has a couple of attorneys under us, some paralegals that’s all there. So that as you can create pods with somebody where the buck stops, who really knows it. But you’re also dealing with, when I look back over the last 19 years, we’ve probably had five lawyer meltdowns, each different division state, what have you, where if we didn’t have senior lawyers there to clean up the mess, it would’ve been really painful. It was amazingly painful as it was, but knowing that history is written by the victor and if you know nothing about an area of law and bring that on, if that goes south, it’s going to be problematic. And that making sure you have some sort of plan B. 


Zack Glaser (32:14): 

So in your experience going from, you said you did the criminal law first, going from that criminal law to personal injury I think is the second. 


Seth Price (32:24): 

That was the order. 


Zack Glaser (32:25): 

Okay. So you have a good established criminal law practice that you say, okay, this is almost its own company and then let’s start a PI company. Instead of poaching people out of the criminal law practice, you’re saying, we’re going to start this PI firm kind of anew. 


Seth Price (32:42): 

Yeah. I don’t believe in mixing. I’ve had one or two people that have had crossover in our experience, and it’s never worked particularly well. We did it in places where we needed it or the person came in with that desire, but I don’t believe in somebody having multiple different, again, that’s an ideal. And when you’re building, you have to know when to break the rules. But as an ideal, I think the faster people get towards repeating something over and over and over again, the better off that you’ll be. And that is you make your money with scale and repetition and somebody who has to figure everything out by first impression is much, much harder to build on. 


Zack Glaser (33:22): 

Right, right. That makes a lot of sense to me. At least things stay in buckets in my mind. And so as things stay in buckets as you’re growing, that seems right. So that would inform the decision of, do I dig in deeper with this company that exists or do I spin off another firm to go horizontally? I think that would help me make that decision. If I’m thinking I’m not just expanding what this firm does, I’m not going to use its resources any more than I absolutely have to. Obviously there are some synergies, but that would help me kind of make that decision of whether to go 


Seth Price (33:58): 

Right. But if one of them spins work into the other, that could be a rationale of taking your example. It may be that landlord tenant attorneys are in demand really unpleasant. I’m making this up, but you got to go to court. It’s like you’re watching people on their worst days. It’s really not a fun process. Having been the landlord in court for my own stuff, I really didn’t enjoy it. But if you have somebody that loves it and is good with it or you have that opportunity or you go out and find somebody and that work is going to spin you debt collection work that is monetizable, then there’s an argument to be made. One of the things that I did early on that I still would encourage is before that creating of council where somebody’s affiliated with your firm and if you’re able to get them work, maybe doing a 50 50 relationship, the only thing I’ll warn you about there, so it’s easy, you could bring in somebody with greater ravita. It’s very rare to then bring them into the fold in a way that is economically viable as a non-equity partner or as an associate. Because where in those places you want to pay 25, maybe 33 cents on the dollar, the ability to bring somebody back from a 50 50 situation is not going to happen. And so you want to sort of figure that piece out knowing that it’s a stepping stone and likely not where you want to end up if you want to do that long term. 


Zack Glaser (35:23): 

No, that makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. So before we wrap up, we’re running out of time, but not running out of ideas. Let’s talk about hiring that next attorney or that next step, that next I guess person, because I think a lot of lawyers, a lot of law firm owners think, well, my next move is going to be to hire an attorney. I need to hire an attorney so we can get attorney work done, but that’s not always the best move to get the work done. 


Seth Price (35:53): 

No, it’s so funny, Jay, Wayne and I over the years on our little law Firm Blueprint podcast, talk about this all the time, which is do you hire a paralegal versus a first year attorney with the attorney turnover issues training? And I saw some clarity. Very, very complicated question. The first thing I’d say, the biggest piece of advice or takeaway I hope people can get from it is that if you look at it as an annualized salary, you’ll never pull the trigger. If you say, Hey, this is what the salary is for three, four, or even six months, and say, I’m good with that and I’ll know fine, but if you sort of say, here’s my annualized salary with benefits, that’s a big, big cliff to jump off of and I don’t love that. And so my law partner’s been very good. It’s like, Hey, let’s say it was a real talented person. 



It was a buck 20 for attorney talent. And we’re like, okay, that’s four months. That’s $40,000. We can do that, right? That’s true. Right? One 20 plus benefits plus this, plus that. That’s a buck 50. And that’s pretty scary, and not that you want it to fail, but if you look at it annualized, you’ll never make that move. A and B, and this is what I saw this weekend when I was talking to these guys who are sort of in that 500 to 2 million range, was making a list of what you need done. If you have no administrative help, you are doing that work and figuring out, okay, I have the ability to get one more person. Do I want to grind on the legal side or do I want the stuff off? And I think some of that has, there are two things to look at, right? 



One is what do you mind more if the answer is you like the diversification and you’re not scaring people off with your ability to do the administrative fine, or you know what, I can get somebody administrative for less, let them be there, and then I can grind away on the legal at a higher degree, and that’s my best use. Okay. That’s sort of the ideal by the book scenario. I think part of it is what talent’s there if the right lawyer comes along, which is not nothing, right? We always talk about this magical, there’s a widget that’s going to fall there. Less people go law school in the B2C world that many of your people are, even in the smaller b2b, it’s not like great talents falling off trees. If you happen to find somebody at a life moment that’s going to work for you for a hundred thousand dollars and you can grab ’em even though you really have your, so being a Giants fan, the philosophy is always best on the draft board. 



And the thought here is if you find an opportunity, I think that has to go into the mix because even though you really need somebody next, if this person could be part of that building, because the answer is you want both long-term, assume that you want to grow. And if you find that right person, even if it’s in the non-ideal order, I think you got to grab it and then you’ll do the sweat equity of the administrative work. But if the great administrative person is there or you’re willing to put the effort in to find it great, you put them in and then you become the person who’s killing yourself and billing or working the extra hours needed in order to get the revenue where you’re like, okay, now I can really justify the associate. 


Zack Glaser (39:01): 

We can get work ourselves out of a job. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And the thing I absolutely love that you said, and this is what I do when I’m talking to people about choosing technology, is make a list of what you need. What do you need out of this thing? I think a lot of people when they go into hiring, they go, I would like somebody to do, oh man, I’m overloaded. I just need some of my work taken off of me. Or my assistant is overloaded and they need some of their work and list that out. Figure out exactly what that is. 


Seth Price (39:34): 

I got to tell you, it was so frustrating during growth mode. People were like, I needed a bookkeeper person. I’ll send you a job description. I don’t want just a bookkeeper. Just a bookkeeper. Get it done. And you know what the good news is in this moment in history, go to chat GBT, and they give you a draft of your job description and then you figure out what you really want. But starting with a blank page is so tough that the good thing about things like chat, GBT is it can bring you things that are standardized that other people have done. 



So to me, again, this isn’t like you should just use that, but look at it and say, okay, sentence one, do I agree yes or no? Cross that one out. Two, that’s my number one sentence, three, that’s my least support, but I want it on the list. And you sort of go through it. And then, because I would say that is one of the hardest things as a lawyer sitting here doing all these things, you need help. And you’re like, okay, now I need to make that list. And that list could be a mental block that people don’t get over. 


Zack Glaser (40:30): 

I’m trying to drive the car down the road. I don’t have the time to sit here and list out what components are broken. 


Seth Price (40:36): 

We always have the time. We don’t have the wherewithal to do it. That’s the issue. It’s not physically about time. We could watch one less episode of Jeopardy, or 


Zack Glaser (40:46): 

I certainly could 


Seth Price (40:48): 

Get off TikTok at 20 minutes earlier. Not that that’s possible, but all of that is there. The question is, can you do that? Because until the rest of the world doesn’t operate on, I need a bookkeeper, they’re going to be, or an office manager. If you get an office manager, and that’s where this stuff breaks down, often you get somebody, but they’re not the skills that you actually need. So maybe some of the listeners could avoid my mistake of hiring somebody that doesn’t work in a second one if they actually think and proactively put it on paper, something I’m terrible at doing before you go down that road in order to try to, this person’s tremendous and a great personality, but they can’t do what I need. 


Zack Glaser (41:28): 

Right, right. No, I think that’s a really good point 


Seth Price (41:32): 

Or aren’t to. That’s the piece during the interview, right? Yeah. So again, listen to people talk about politicians. If they say stuff, listen to ’em, listen to somebody during the, do you like doing this stuff? That means it’s never happening, right? And so I digress. 


Zack Glaser (41:49): 

No, that’s a good point. If they’re willing to tell you it’s not their favorite, they’re not going to do it, or you’re going to have to push somebody to do it. Absolutely. 


Seth Price (41:54): 

Right. Because how many times have you heard this, both with internally and then with clients where you have somebody, you realize what you need, you now change the job description and people lose their proverbial SHIT, which is their, it wasn’t what I was hired for. There’s a huge cost that may break, which is why we end up with my rule of three is very often it’s not malicious, it’s just you hire somebody saying, Hey, I really need somebody to focus on the HR stuff, and the person gets there and you’re like, that’s not the case. I need to get my intake down and it’s not the same job. 


Zack Glaser (42:26): 

Yeah, that’s absolutely right. Absolutely. Well, Seth, I think we’re coming up on time here. It’s absolute pleasure to talk to you. You have a ton of knowledge in this sphere, and people can find you loads of places@bluesharkdigital.com, at price benowitz.com, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, and we’re going to drop all these links in the show notes. 


Seth Price (42:47): 

And look, I just encourage people, look, I’m ridiculously accessible. Send me a chat from Facebook or LinkedIn and happy to continue the conversation online. 


Zack Glaser (42:55): 

Fantastic. Well, awesome. Again, Seth, thanks for being with us. This is a load of great information, so I appreciate your time. 


Seth Price (43:02): 

Thrilled to be here. 


Zack Glaser (43:06): 

All you. This podcast is edited by Brittany Felix, are you ready to implement the ideas we discussed here into your practice, wondering what to do next? Here are your first steps. First, if you haven’t read the Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the initial chapter for free at Lawyerist dot com slash book, looking for help beyond the book. Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities are right for you at the Lawyerist dot com slash community slash lab for more information. The views expressed by the participants are their own and are not endorsed by Legal Talk Network. Nothing said in this podcast is legal advice for you. 

Your Hosts

Zack Glaser

is the Legal Tech Advisor at Lawyerist, where he assists the Lawyerist community in understanding and selecting appropriate technologies for their practices. He also writes product reviews and develops legal technology content helpful to lawyers and law firms. Zack is focused on helping Modern Lawyers find and create solutions to help assist their clients more effectively.

Featured Guests

Seth Price

An accomplished attorney and transformational thought leader, Seth Price is a founding partner and the business backbone of Price Benowitz LLP as well as the founder and CEO of BluShark Digital. Seth took a two person law firm and scaled to 40 lawyers in less than a decade. Now Seth has taken the same digital power that built the firm to create a best in class digital agency focused on the legal sector in BluShark Digital. Seth has been a frequent lecturer and moderator at some of the largest and most influential law conferences in the United States, speaking on the tools and strategies law firms can use to align their business development with changing consumer habits. He has spoken on topics including but not limited to, how to build a firm, ethics, best practices for firm operations, search engine optimization (SEO), and digital marketing as a whole.

Books: Tiger Tactics CEO Edition: From ZERO to Law Firm CEO 

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Last updated May 9th, 2024