Episode No: 391
In this episode, Zack talks with his father, attorney Steve Glaser, about succession planning for law firms and making sure you take care of your clients in the transition. They also discuss what makes a practice valuable to others and how that has changed over Steve’s career.
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Points of Note:
- 9:48 -- The start of succession planning for law firms
- 34:24 -- The importance of acknowledging your missing statement
- 38:25 -- Decide why are you practicing law
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.
Steve is a Tennessee licensed attorney who has been practicing since 1987. He has experience in Criminal and Civil courts at both the trial and appellate levels. Currently, he owns The Glaser Firm, P.C., a creditor’s rights practice that he has been running for the last 20 years. He has been a police officer, a judge, a bodyguard, and is a Tennessee Rule 31 Mediator.
Transcript automatically created.
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
Hi, I’m Zach Glaser
And I’m Stephanie Everett. And this is episode 391 of the Lawyerist podcast, part of the legal talk network today, Zach is talking with Steven Glaser about succession planning for your small law firm.
Today’s podcast is brought to you by Posh Virtual Receptionist, Law Pay and MyCase, we wouldn’t be able to do this show without their support. So stay tuned. And we’ll tell you more about them later on.
So Zach, it’s a special week here in the United States. We celebrate father’s day. Yes. And this is gonna be our father’s day special episode because today you are interviewing your dad.
I know it’s not just a coincidence that we have the, the same last name, so happy father’s day to everybody out there, whether you’re celebrating, you know, or, or not, I guess, but you know, whether you’re in the United States or wherever, but
Yeah, I don’t, I mean, is that an international thing? I said that because I, it feels like a hallmark, uh, created thing in the us.
It does. I mean, like, it’s obviously important to, to celebrate the, the people that are important in your life, but I think that globally, we do that on different days.
So, yeah, just maybe listen to this on your, your own country’s father’s day. There you go. And that’ll be how we do it
And tell us what that is. We could start giving all the dads shout outs.
Yeah. We’d love to hear that,
But in the same vein, like, it is cool to have your dad on the show. And, and I’ve talked about my dad before a lot of our team members actually have fathers who are business owners, mm-hmm , and maybe that’s not a coincidence that we are now have that entrepreneurial spirit. And so I thought it might be cool for us to kind of share our favorite stories about our, the lessons we learned from our dads around business ownership.
Yeah. Yeah. I, I think that’s great. And yeah, I, I do when I think of my dad and one of the things that he gave me is that kind of entrepreneurial spirit, entrepreneurial spirit, he did not give me the ability to say that word that’s right. Um, but you know, the business owner’s spirit.
Yeah. And so when I think about that from my dad, he, he was a car dealer before he retired. And I remember a distinct time in high school. He got recruited to come in and take over a different dealership in town. So, I mean, he was at the, you know, Pontiac and Nissan Cadillac dealership, and then he had to move over to Ford. And I remember there was a lot of anxiety in the company about him coming in, like, who is this new guy taking over mm-hmm and is he gonna be highfalutin? And is he gonna, you know, what, who is this guy? And the boss before him, that the company had been struggling. And the boss before him had taken away everyone’s vacation and taken like taken away things because, because the company was struggling Uhhuh to try to, you know, to try to get, I guess, profits back up.
Yeah. That’s certainly tempting to do. And you know, at any time when company’s struggling,
Right. So I remember when my dad started, he was very intentional. He catered a steak and potato lunch for everyone at the dealership. So every mechanic, every salesperson, everyone in the back office was invited to come to this lunch and he just shook their hands and he introduced themselves. And he’s just like, I’m one of you. They, I remember they were like, oh, do you wanna get the, you know, whatever your demo’s gonna be this, you know, he was like, I just want the basic F-150 like, give me the truck that the, you know, that the, every guy, everyday guy drives. Right. And same for me. Like I got a car two and sky was 16. So I got, you know, I just remember I got an escort and, and he wanted to come in and show them like, we’re part of you, we’re gonna be part of the team. And he gave their them their benefits back mm-hmm and they turned the company around very quickly. And it was mm-hmm it was very successful. And that, that lesson and that story has just always stayed with me about how important it is that you treat your team well,
Right. Well, it it’s your team. Yeah. Not your workers yeah. You know, and you know, that’s, that’s interesting. It’s striking because again, like I said, it is tempting when times are bad to make cuts across the board or, or try to, you know, tighten the belt everywhere. But, you know, sometimes it, it’s better to make sure that you treat your employees well and, and they will turn things around for you. You know, it, it is, it’s really difficult to get loyalty, but when you get it, it is extremely special at a company at a firm, at an office
For sure. And his team, he sold his company a couple years ago, but mm-hmm , he had such loyal employees. In fact, the guy who took it over from him and runs it now was my high school classmate and started washing cars for him when we were in high school, his AF wow. His after school job was to like wash cars. And he used to like fill up the gas and, you know, and now he’s been with him, his whole career, and now he runs the business. And so it’s true. And you get that loyalty and his team was loyal, but I’d love to hear, like, what, what’s your favorite business lesson from your dad?
Yeah, so dad, you know, I, I think our, our dad’s probably had a lot of them as we were going around, but I, I was lucky enough. I practiced with my father for, uh, a number of years, got out of law school and, and went and joined his practice. And so we had a lot of time together sitting at one of those, you know, partners, desks, where you’re facing each other. And I kept getting bigger screens. So I didn’t have to, to, you know, to look at him now. Um, but so we, we had a lot of time together. And so we had a lot of little maxims and things, but I think the one that really strikes me the most is that in business, in life, but in business, certainly, especially when you’re dealing with clients, you can recover from anything but dishonesty
Yeah. So clients will forgive you for losing a case. They will forgive you for messing up a file. They will forgive you for them, you know, losing money, but they will not forgive you for lying to them. Um, for dishonesty.
Yeah. That resonates
Mm-hmm . And I, I think, honestly, I think that kind of goes with our, what do lawyer really get in trouble for in ethics? You know, we get in trouble for messing with people’s money and, and not communicating or lying to clients.
Yeah. Yeah. All good business lessons. I mean, we could probably do an entire show of just us talking about all the things that, that our fathers have taught us. And I’m just so fortunate and grateful for my dad. Quite frankly. I don’t know if I, I tell him that enough, so I’ll have to send him this episode, make sure he, he hears it.
that’d be nice. That’d be nice.
All right. So now let, let’s have your conversation with your dad.
Yeah. Sounds good.
Hi, I’m Steve Glaser. I’m an attorney in Memphis, Tennessee. I’ve been practicing since 1987. I have my own practice. Uh, it’s a creditor’s rights practice that, uh, covers the entire state of Tennessee all 96 counties. And so, uh, I’m here to talk to Zach about that. I guess
pops. Thanks for being with me. I thanks. Thanks for man. Honestly, this is a treat for me, for me too. So it it’s very cool, but just for everyone, uh, this is my father, Steve. He is the reason I got into being an attorney. And frankly, he’s the reason I got into, into legal tech as well was practicing with him. When I got outta law school, I came and started practicing in your, your practice that you already had the creditors rights. And you’ve been doing that since I think 2003.
No. Think about 2000, I think.
And you dragged me kicking and screaming into the 21st century
And I’m still doing that to people. Yeah. Still, still trying to do that to people.
Well, I found it to be a tremendous asset. Yeah, I did. I wouldn’t have known about it without you. And it was, uh, turned out to be what a, a tremendous asset web paperless before anybody else did. We certainly have, uh, the software that we need to be successful in our practice. You’ve brought us through all that. Uh, we use less people and more technology now mm-hmm , and, and that makes us more efficient, so
Well, and, and I think that plays into, you know, today we’re talking about succession planning and okay, first thing, I think I was your succession planning. in, in some ways
You were my succession plan, but I well, any, and you were kind of the outside succession plan. Yeah. If you wanted it, it was there. Right. And, and I did what I wanted to do and you doing what you wanted do, and that’s the way it should be. Yeah. You know, you raise your children to, to be independent and then you have to let, ’em be independent.
Yeah. You raise ’em to be independent. You tell ’em they have to go to law school and then you, you tell ’em
And then they don’t go.
Yeah. And they don’t go,
Then they go their
Own terms. Yeah. And then, then you tell them that they can be independent and do, do whatever you want in law. That’s a, a in my office. Yeah. In my, in my office. Yeah. Yes. . Well, so when you were starting out and I think I was five when you started out.
What did you think about succession planning? Were you thinking about succession planning? No.
If when you were five, I was just starting law school or I was in law school. Mm-hmm uh, let’s see. Yeah. You were, no, I graduated from 87. You were born in 82, so you’re right. Mm-hmm I graduated the last thing outta my mind was succession planning. I didn’t even know what kind of lawyer I wanted to be at that point. I did some criminal defense law. I was a assistant public defender for a number of years. Mm-hmm , but finally kinda gravitated toward the creditor’s rights Milu and, uh, started with a desk, a computer and a chair. And that was it. And then just started doing local collections for landlords and doctors and veterinarians and, and any other kind of creditor of car lots. And mm-hmm and it kind of grew. And as we grew, we attracted bigger clients and we attracted folks that needed help in other counties and other areas around the state. And that enabled us to, uh, to build a, a CAD R people who are working with us throughout the state of Tennessee. It’s a big state mm-hmm it’s it’s uh, they tell me it’s closer from Johnson city, Tennessee, up in east, Tennessee, Canada than it is from Johnson city to Memphis.
I think you’re right.
And I think it is too, as a bird, as a Crow flies, I think you can kind
Of, yeah. I,
My point is it’s a big state. You need help. Yeah. And so we’ve over the years been able to develop that help mm-hmm and then that kinda almost exacerbates the succession problem. Right. Because now you’ve got this organization, what do you do with it?
Yeah. I, I think that’s, that’s the question to me. Cause I remember growing up, you essentially saying, you know, a lawyer’s practice is really only as valuable as, as them, without them practicing. And I know that that’s that a lot of the prevailing wisdom now, uh, it certainly was the prevailing wisdom, you know, when I was younger. Um, but
Collections is a little different, right. We have a business that is worked around the law. We actually have assets mm-hmm I have accounts receivable of millions, of dollars of accounts received. Mm-hmm now some of it are it’s collectible and some of it isn’t right. But most other law practices, they conclude their business get paid and move on. Right. So there’s no residual account receivable. Right? So in that way, in succession planning, I actually have something to pass on,
To pass on to, to sell, to, to actually say. And I think, I think you hit the nail in the head there, like, what is the thing in a practice of value that can be, that can be purchased. And I don’t, I think the key with the creditors’ right stuff with, with your practice is that it is run like a business and it does have assets that add value to anybody. If they were in there, if anybody was in your seat, they would have this value around them. And I think you can do that in a lot of different ways, but specifically creditors’ rights. I mean, not only do you have the accounts receivable of, of the collections, but you also have earned attorney fees that exist. They haven’t been collected yet, but they exist. So you have something that is, I am quote unquote, owed this from the client. And so as in a lot of places, the value of the, the firm stays with the person because the client will only stay with the person. The client is, is allowed to leave anytime they want. And that’s how it should be.
Well, and they can leave my practice too. Right. They just can’t leave the accounts. They’ve already given me. Right. But we have a contract and I’ve done my part of it. And now I, I expect them to do their part, which has allowed me to collect it. Right. Which is really nothing. They’re not doing anything they’re actually gonna make money. Right. You know, from my, my efforts, which is fine. Uh, you know, I tell ’em when I’m selling it to ’em that they don’t, I don’t make money unless they make money. Mm-hmm , mm-hmm, , you know, it’s what it’s all about. I’m there to help collect for them so that I can get a portion of that. Right. And I’ve always said, I’d rather have a, a dollar from a million people than a million dollars from one person, cuz then you’re relying on that one person. Yeah. And you don’t want that. So you want to, you wanna get out there and have a regular recurring source of income that will generate, uh, enough to, you know, run your law office and pay your bills and that kind of stuff. So,
You know, I, I think that’s, that’s another thing is like you have these amassed accounts receivable in, in, in this area
And then we have infrastructure as well, right? That’s of value,
Right? You have infrastructure, you have clients that are already there that are already coming into you that are used to the way that you do things are used to the
Way we do things. Right? And so when you, you, you’re not selling a person, you’re not selling the name, Steve Glazer, you’re selling the processes. Right. You know?
Right. We we’re selling our method of doing this. And of course it’s not any different than a lot of other people, but certainly we hope we have our little spin on it. Mm-hmm in that, uh, we tend to be a kinder, gentler firm. Right. And we realize that people who are in situation where they are being sued for a debt or in a difficult spot, right. That’s probably one of the lower points in their life and they don’t need somebody give them a hard time. They need somebody to help them out of this. Mm-hmm . And so we can go in and even though we’re adversaries, mm-hmm , we can help them get out from under whatever this burden is. Right. And by doing that, it helps me because we collect money. It helps them because then they’re not pursued or hounded or they’re not worried mm-hmm and it helps my client. Cause then we get some money for them. Right. So I’ve seen some collectors that try to be mean and force people into doing things networks, uh, initially, but doesn’t work in the long run. And I, on top of that, it’s just not the person I am. I think you gotta, you gotta be true to yourself.
Well, I mean, you you’ve certainly, always told me that is you, you have to, to be the attorney that, that you are, you know, you can’t be right. Something. That’s how you get, I don’t wanna say in trouble, but that’s how you get you do bad work, frankly. When, when you, when you try to be someone you aren’t well, so kind of going with that, you’ve got your own style, your, your own way of doing this. That makes me think about when you’re choosing who this practice goes to, you have the ability and have the ability to say, okay, I want my clients to go here because you still have the, I’d say obligation to kinda shepherd your clients appropriately,
Still have a relationship with those people. Right. And, and I plan on kind of hanging around to help for a little while to help that transition. But you’re right. I wanna find somebody who kind of has the same philosophy I do what will treat my clients with the respect that I do. Mm-hmm uh, and so we’ve interviewed several people for this. I mean, we’ve talked to several people about taking it over and, uh, I think we’ve, we’ve landed on somebody that we like mm-hmm and that will do a good job and it will, uh, hopefully provide Aly income for us. And, and for me in the future.
Right. I guess that’s the other thing, you know, we’re, we’re talking about succession planning and we didn’t get to this at, at the beginning, we’re talking about succession planning because you’re, that’s on your mind right now, right? You’re
You’re, I’m trying to retire.
Yeah. Trying to retire and, and it’s, it’s tough to get an attorney to retire. You know, you’ve always told me that you’ll practice until you, you know, can’t go up the, the courthouse steps anymore.
That’s probably true, but I’m getting there.
yes. But technology is actually starting to help you because now you, you practice until you can’t turn on zoom.
True. and, uh, yeah. That, and I found elevators now in all the courthouses, so that’s good.
Yeah. So yeah. Yeah. The staircases are getting steeper. I don’t think it’s me as think it’s them.
Yes. Yes. They’re they’re changing it up. Somebody comes in there every Sunday and makes, and
A little steeper just a little bit, just a little bit.
Yeah. I still plan doing some legal work. I’m just not going have my office open. Right. I’m appearance work for other, for other attorneys mm-hmm and that’s strictly on a piecemeal basis. So that I’m paid as I do it.
Right. Well, and then you don’t have to run, you know, the, the business side right. Of, because that’s, that’s essentially what you’ve been doing.
That’s the time consuming part, right. That’s exactly right. You know, when, when I first started out, we didn’t have special software. I had to kind of cobble together a couple of things. I had to get one software for the, uh, operations of the business and then another software for the financial aspects.
These kids out there don’t know how good they have it.
True. They got CRMs and LPMs software that works together.
Yeah. Whatever that is. Um, they don’t see here’s the bad part. When I started out, we were still using carbon paper now in paper now it wasn’t long, but we still used carbon paper for deeds and things like that to make sure they were identical. But, uh, you know, obviously we went into computers very quickly. And I was when I started my, my own law office, I had a computer, but when I, in 1987, no, we, dad still had carbon paper. Right. But anyway, I’ve always had computers and you’ve always been able to update and keep me, uh, relevant. But, uh, you know, that it’s not, it’s not just a law practice and they don’t teach you in law school, how to run a business. Right. Nobody teaches you that you have to kind of figure it out as you go. And, uh, I guess that’s been my forte, my whole life nobody’s really told me how to do anything. I’ve just kind of stumbled through it and, and tried to come out on the other end. That’s why, you know, like we talked earlier about being yourself. Mm-hmm, also being honest. Yeah. And if I, and I, that helps me because as I’m stumbling and somebody says, oh, you screwed this up. And I go, yeah, I did
And so you go in, you fix it. Whereas if you’re trying to be a, uh, uh, silk stocking lawyer, and you don’t want to admit that you’re, uh, you’ve made a mistake, you’re gonna go in there and try to obviscate and, or you may hope you don’t, but you may. Right. But that’s just not my way of doing things. So I’ve tried to be honest in my successes and my failures and move forward and learned from one to a practice and have
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It does. And I always wondered what that was about. There’s a command almost.
Yeah, it, it was client relationship manager and nobody was really doing law practice management systems. People were building their own bespoke ones and, and whatnot, but you had to,
And that was the thing about this one is that you had to kind of build it yourself. It was a platform, but you had to build everything out. You had to build your own letters, your own databases, your own, everything. And, uh, you know, once you had it set up, it was great. Mm-hmm , but then you, then you had the financial software was totally separate, right? And then, so you had invoices in one and invoices and the other, and they had to match. And at the end of the day, you had to write reports for both systems and bring ’em together and make sure that they did match mm-hmm . And we, we were able to do that, you know, but it was, uh, time consuming and, uh, oftentimes difficult to make, you know, you, you make a small mistake in one place and it, it amplifies in another. So.
Right. But that, you know, that, that did two things in my mind. One is it allowed you to take on a larger client base, you were able to serve more clients because, you know, if you don’t have to do the math by hand and the stuff’s already there, then you can more clients, right. The other is that, although you’re the people that have worked for you have always been great people and your positions are almost fungible. You can, you can teach somebody how to do one of the positions because you have processes in place. And I, I remember coming in and I, I, when I was in college, worked at a, at your office and you, you were able to just kind of get me up and running and plug me into to positions without any knowledge, because you had three ring binders of here’s how we do it, here’s our processes.
Well, and you had to figure it out along the way in order to, uh, to have, uh, folks be consistent. And like you said, we’ve been through several people in our office and, you know, you don’t wanna, you don’t wanna lose your, uh, continuity. Right. And so I was able to do that with the people we had. And, uh, like you said, write it down as you go. Mm-hmm .
Well, and, and I, I remember, uh, with some of the people that, that we’ve had, I remember many of them, they were writing it down as we’d go, you know, you, you say, Hey, you’re the one that’s doing this. Right. I need you to document it. But having that documentation meant that I could jump in and with, with no knowledge and do what they were doing. And although, yes, that is extremely beneficial for running the practice day to day. It also then creates this process, this thing, this machine that you can sell,
Right? Yes. But now, you know, now with the, with, uh, the software we have now that incorporates both the, uh, financial and the administrative aspects of the, of the mm-hmm practice in one, and that’s makes it a lot easier to deal with a lot easier to bring people on. Mm-hmm, a lot easier, lot easier to, uh, at the end of the day, a lot easier to figure out how much you made and how much you had, you know, your profit and loss and your, where you are these things. And it incorporates the, uh, the, uh, calendar as well. So,
Yeah, well, and I think that’s a good point is, you know, I remember we went from, you know, we went from act to something that was, that was online to, on premises software that, that you have now. And every step the reports got better, right? The ability to say, how efficient are we? How good are we? But not only internally, which again, that those are good business processes to have to be running your reports to say, you know, are, are we doing well in this area of the practice? Are we doing well in this area of practice? But then when you go to, to look at succession, you gotta look at selling or, or passing this on. You can say, this is what we do. This is how we do, yeah. This is, this is how well it’s done. This is, this is what we can expect based on history to potentially make, you know, we could even get down to what was the percentage of collections that we had on this type of work.
Right. So, no, if you got a million dollars worth of accounts receivable and you can collect 20% of that, well, that’s, you know, that’s not bad.
That’s, it’s a real money, at least to me.
Yes. And that’s well, and making collect 60% of it that’s really real money mm-hmm . But, um, cause I think we figured out that we had about $8 million in collectible and outstanding collections.
Right. Right. And we were able to run that report and, and actually say, here is,
We gotta figure out what the percentage we collect is. Yeah. And so once we’ve, you know, what, that, that then quantifies your, your existence, I guess I hate to say that, but it does,
You know, that that’s, that’s the thing, is it, it, I think a lot of attorneys look at business of applying, you know, their, their practice and it feels at the very least not fun. It doesn’t feel like practicing law.
The, the business aspect is not the fun part. That’s not why I get into this.
Right. Right. And I, and I think that that’s the case for a lot of people, but at the same time, if you want the freedom of practicing for yourself, then yes, you have to be able to do these things and you have to be able to run a business.
Yeah. Even if it wasn’t a collections business, even it was just a regular general practice. Right. You’d still be running a business,
So, oh yeah. If you’re doing divorces, you still have to figure out how to
Your software would be different, but still have to have it.
And your, you know, the, the difference I find, or I see a lot of times between what I practice, which was creditors’ rights and, and what a lot of other people practice is that my intake was a lot different because we had 18 clients that were sending a lot of cases and we just had to keep 18 people happy, you know? And we had to be very, very hands on with them. Whereas if you’re doing divorces, you’re doing DUIs or you’re doing bankruptcy or something like that, you need to do a lot of inbound marketing. Yes. But that has its value.
But you, you generally don’t have the recurring business that you do in collections.
Right. Well, it’s certainly not that you do in collections, but, but the, yeah. , you know, hopefully people aren’t coming back again and again, but at the same time, if you can set up a system that does good intake, you can automate your intake using certain software, or you have been able to run reports on, you know, where, where do you send your marketing to, in order to increase your ROI, then that even is something that you can sell. That’s an asset in itself is that if you have a really good funnel, you know, that has value to somebody that can just jump in there because it’s all about the processes.
Sure. Well, and that’s assuming that they, they understand that. And so, yeah, you’re right. The business funnel is it’s all about, I guess is. But again, that is a relatively recent yes. Phenomenon. And on my radar over the last, let’s say six, eight years, mm-hmm that marketing has really come into its forefront. And, and prior to that, you just kind of stayed within the industry mm-hmm and you, and you went to different places and talked to people about, Hey, you talked to collection agencies, you talked to large companies that needed something and you didn’t really just market in general. And now I think you have with the internet and with the advent of, uh, all the, uh, marketing strategies, mm-hmm, , you have an opportunity to really, um, expand your footprint.
Right. Right. Well, it, and I, I remember growing up seeing lawyer ads on TV and, you know, back back then 30 years ago, we, we really scoffed at that. And we, we scoffed it at lawyers that had to advertise couldn’t have been good lawyers. That’s how we felt. I mean, to
Be honest, right. And now you have to, if you’re doing any kind of personal injury, if you don’t advertise your song
Right there, there’s just no way to, I mean, in my opinion, there’s, there’s very little potential of, of doing that. You have to get your name out there. Now there are attorneys that, that work on word of mouth perfectly, you know? Yes. But, but you have to be doing some sort of marketing, even if it’s going to the rotary club.
Right. Right. And now we’re yeah. But booking your name out there somewhere, and then if you’re gonna do it on your own, you’re also gonna have to be a little more diverse. Mm-hmm , you’re gonna have to take a lot more different type cases. Uh, you can’t just specialize. I don’t think in, you know, like criminal defense, maybe the exception to that, because there’s a lot of crime, but even so there’s a few people in the criminal defense market that can make a great living mm-hmm and everybody else just gets by. Whereas in collections, I think there’s potential for a lot of people to make, to do well. And then it’s not, you’re not fighting against your, your, uh, fellow attorneys. You’re actually there’s enough there for everybody.
Mm-hmm yeah. I think there are a couple of, of areas of law that people have found that have, have been that way. I, I know, uh, immigration is one that seems like you can, you know, you can really set up a system and get a lot of, I don’t wanna say recurring, but get a good funnel and, and run it like a business, same thing, like
Like bankruptcy estate planning. Yes. Practices like that, that you really can set up your processes, solidify a business around those processes run the appropriately. And honestly, I mean, like I obviously I’m gonna plug the, the book here, run it, you know, in a way that, that is, uh, with the small firm roadmap and like, right, right. Look at our book. Right. You know, you can see how to, how to do that, but you can do it whatever way you want, but the key is having a business instead of just having a practice.
Correct. Yeah. And you have to hire good people. Mm mm-hmm and you have to have good people in support. Otherwise you’re sunk. Right. I was very fortunate to be able to find good people as we went along mm-hmm and, um, you know, make great relationships with those folks. But also that they weren’t necessarily lethal mind when they came in. They were more, um, so I got to mold them. Right. And actually the people with several of the people in the office went on through and got their paralegal degree,
A few have gone through and gotten their law degree.
That’s true. I forgot about that.
You’re right. It’s me and others at all. Yeah. That’s, that’s the thing is like previously, you and I have actually been connected with and, and dealt with a couple of, and kind of unfortunate succession planning, like a unplanned succession where we, we took on some cases from a, from an attorney who, who passed away, passed away.
And we wouldn’t have been able to do it. We, even though he had good software, we would not have been able to do it if we hadn’t taken on his, one of his assistants or his paralegals also, because all the processes were in her head.
And we were fortunate enough to be able to quantify that, get that out of her head and put it on paper where everybody could do it. Right. And she was being, she was able to train us. We were able to train her mm-hmm cause she was doing segregation work mm-hmm as opposed to just pure collections. And so we weren’t as familiar with that and it worked out well, it was an educating process for me. And it was one for her as well. Mm-hmm and then I thought it worked out pretty well. And she taught the rest of the people in the office. Yeah. And it kind of, you know, really expanded our practice tremendously.
Yeah. It, it did. But that practice in and of itself, even though it was the same type of practice that, that we were running at the time, because it didn’t have the processes, you know, you had to have a person there and that’s, that’s one of the things that you have to, I think we are getting away from, in law now is it has classically been all the processes we’re in one of like the office manager’s head or the head paralegals head or, or somebody’s mind, you know, we, we don’t put it on paper. Right. And I think a lot of that comes from the fact that us as attorneys are thinking about these things on the fly. And so we think, well, I, I can’t put that on paper. I have, I just have to figure it out. You know, it’s, it’s, it’s just a decision treat most of the time, you know?
Well, one of the things that we did when you come on was we started writing down our pro our procedures and our philosophy. We did a, uh, mm-hmm handbook. Yeah. An employee’s handbook. And that forced us, or forced me to sit down and say, okay, what is this process? What are we doing? What is our mission statement? What is our, how are we gonna get there? What can we offer? What do we offer police? What do we offer customers? Right. And that really helped quantify things tremendously for me.
Right. Well, and then who, yeah. Who is the customer we’re we’re looking at? I think that’s one of the reasons that I personally was drawn to, to Lawyerist is because the, you know, because of being taught to do that type of thing, we, we encourage people to write down their values, you know, to right. To write down what is your goal? You know? And, and I know that we, we may not have written down values, big header, and then 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,
No, we wrote down mission statement.
Right. But we wrote down our values. We, we knew why we were doing these things. We knew where we were going and what we wanted to do with it. And I think that’s, that’s important, but that’s again, running the business
Well, and here’s one of the things you touched on and I wanna make sure that it, that we talk about it. You should run the law the way you are.
be yourself. In other words, like you said, who are you? And who do you want to be? And what kind of lawyer do you want to be? Mm-hmm and then run your law office, then run your business to me. I don’t want to take a business and say, well, I’ve gotta be a hard, a hard here and difficult with people. I can’t do that. Right. Back many, many, many, many moons ago, I was a cop and we would do good cop, bad cop. And I could never be bad cop
I just can’t. It’s not me.
It’s wasn’t gonna work.
No. And so the same thing here, I’m not gonna be a kick butt lawyer. I’m going to be a, let’s figure this out lawyer.
Right. Right. Now
I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a kick butt lawyer because when you need one, nothing else will do.
But that isn’t me. Yeah. And so if, if anything, that was, when, you know, when succession planning, you’re looking for someone who shares that.
Yeah. Yes. Yes. I think
Because you don’t want tremendous change.
Yeah. I mean, it’s a change for your clients. It’s a change for, for everything and, and you kind of need those, those values.
And I think the clients kinda like the fact that we’re kinder Jeff, cause of course, especially small businesses, they don’t necessarily lose, uh, a patient or a client. You know, we’ve had Christmas cards from people we’ve collected from thank us. Right.
Well, and, and you know, you’re, you’re a chiropractor in, you know, rural Tennessee, you, you, you don’t, and you’re trying to collect money and it’s just that somebody didn’t get their insurance pay for it. You want somebody to say, hi, this is the end of the line. Not, Hey, I’m gonna take your house from you, you know? Right. Because you want that person to come back to you.
well, you wanna say, this is the end of line. How can we make this work for you? Right. What does your budget look like? What does your situation in particular? How can we get this off your back? Cuz you want it off your back and we want it off your back. Mm-hmm . And the only way we win is if you, you know, you, you pay it off and you’re happy you pay it off and I’m happy you pay it off. And my client’s happy mm-hmm so we should all work to be happy.
So that it’s, that’s who I am, but you should open your office and you should have the theme of your office and your missions statement, be consistent with who you are and your personality and how you operate as a, as an individual mm-hmm
. Well, and, and I’ll, I’ll add to that, that you have been able to do that. You have been able to run practices for, you know, my, my lifetime, but basically, um, operating that way, saying this is how I want to operate. This is, this is the reason I want to run a law practice. I remember part of it was that you wanted to make sure you could come to our games. Yes. You you’ve coached me my entire life. And that, you know, I, I always put that in the, in the category of values for recruiting law firms.
Well, you have to decide why are you practicing law? Right. Um, I wasn’t trying to get on the Supreme court. I wasn’t trying to, you know, create any kind of precedent. I was trying to represent people. Mm-hmm, not average people who are, uh, who needed help. And I wanted make a living ed mm-hmm and one of the things, you know, you can work for somebody else and then you’re stuck doing their bidding at their time. Mm-hmm or you can work for yourself and you, and you do what you had to do. Right. And I always, I don’t work and play well with others. I, I tend to see things my way and try to do things my way. And some people appreciate it and some people don’t. Right. And I, I realized early on that if I was gonna be successful in practice all the way I wanted to, I had to do it on my own mm-hmm . And so, I mean, I’d worked for other people and like I said, assistant public defender, I worked in a collection firm and, and you know, I had success there, but I also was stifled there. Right. And so this was the way to make me set my own agenda, both professionally and, and personally.
Yeah. Well, and you’re, you’re again, you’re kind of still able to do that here with the succession planning. You’re able to choose who you want to right. To deal with these things because you’ve, you’ve operated in, in that way.
I wish I had planned it earlier.
Well, that, that’s what I was gonna ask. If you would do anything else differently, what, what would you have done differently?
I I’d probably have tried to solidify the, the business a little bit more, uh, make it where it is more of a, of an entity that can be sold now. Just kind of putting things back together. Mm-hmm financially and, and, and administratively. But, uh, I think I probably would have, you know, it’s, it’s the old seven habits of highly effective people. The first habit is start with the end in mind. Mm-hmm and I didn’t do that. I didn’t have the end in mind when I started. And that would be the only thing I might nuance. I would’ve had some more nuance to my development of, uh, the business in order to make it more desirable. Maybe. Uh, I probably would’ve brought on somebody other than you but no.
Who, who wouldn’t have you?
Oh no, no, no, no. I didn’t want anybody other than you. And, and that’s, and that was it. And I, I wanted to go forward in case you wanted, and, and when you found your niche, then that was my cue to try to find a way to, to transition this out. So mm-hmm and we’re both happy.
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Absolutely. Well, dad, I, I obviously could keep talking to you for, for a while.
So isn’t that more than you ever wanted? I mean, is that what you wanna know?
Yeah. Yeah. I think so. I think that, okay. You got everything that is all I’ve ever wanted to know from you.
Well, that’s how you’re getting.
I’m not answering your calls anymore.
No’s it? Ghost?
Well, dad, uh,
New phone who? Yeah,
This thanks for being with me. I, I really appreciate, I really appreciate talking. I’d
Rather be with you than with the finest people in the world.
You couldn’t be with the finest people in the world.
That’s my point. But I’d rather be with you than with them.
Thank you. Thank
You all. Alright.
Speaker 5 (41:34):
All right, pops. Thank you
Very much. Bye. Bye. We’ll talk to you soon. I love you. All
Speaker 5 (41:37):
Right. Love you. See that
The Lawyerist Podcast is edited by Britany Felix. Are you ready to implement the ideas we discuss here into your practice? Wondering what to do next? Here are your first two steps. First. If you haven’t read The Small Firm Roadmap yet, grab the first chapter for free at Lawyerist.com/book. Looking for help beyond the book? Let’s chat about whether our coaching communities, right for you. Head to Lawyerist.com/community/lab to schedule a 10 minute call with our team to learn more. 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.